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CCEMRIGHT DEPOSIT. 




CAPTAIN OTWAY BURNS 



Captain Otway Burns 

Patriot, Privateer and 
Legislator 




Arma virumquc cano.— 

Vergil. 



COLLECTED AND COMPILED 



BY 



WALTER FRANCIS BURNS 



NEW YORK 
1905 



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Two OC'L-iei- deceived | 

APH ^c 1905 

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TO THE) MEMORY O^ 

AMERICA'S NAVAL HEROES 

WITH FEEI^INGS 01^ THE DEEPEST ADMIRATION FOR 

THEIR ACTS 01^ SPI.ENDID DARING FOR THE 

HONOR OF OUR COUNTRY THIS WORK 

IS RESPECTFUI.I.Y DEDICATED 



Copyright 1905 
WALTER FRANCIS BURNS 



INTRODUCTION. 

A careful and sustained search for written and 
traditional records of those who shared in the na- 
tional defence in 1812 has revealed a lamentable 
dearth of authentic information both in official and 
private circles. America has been prodigal of her 
heroes. Contemporaneous foreign history shows a 
wealth of smallest details in their perfected systems 
of War Office Records. But America was in her 
infancy; a struggle for even the form of the con- 
stitution itself was raging while the war of 1812 
was being waged. Such official records as were 
kept were despoiled by the British invasion of 
Washington. The vast extent of the country and 
the rapidly shifting scenes of action also contri- 
buted much to the difficulty of accurately recording 
events. But above all the fact that so many who 
acquitted themselves most bravely in this struggle 
retired to their home-life, and, Cincinnatus-like, 



took up the arts of peace with the happy reflection 
of duty performed has made the historian's work 
a most discouraging and difficult task. 

The writer was actuated by family interest in 
gathering information of his immediate ancestry; 
but as the work went on with increasing difficulty, 
as he soon found himself involved in a tangle of 
historical detail, and confronted by a mass of im- 
perfect and contradictory local traditions, he was 
impelled to place the result of his pains-taking in- 
vestigation in a permanent form. It is sincerely to 
be hoped that others may be prompted to perpetuate 
the memory of those who have contributed to the 
making of a nation and that there may be evolved 
from the chaos of the past a lasting memorial to 
the actors in the great drama. 

Especial thanks are due to those who have 
rendered material assistance in gathering and veri- 
fying information and for the interest that they 
have displayed in the subject. The writer feels 
under great obligations to many who have entered 
upon the work of collecting facts in the life and 
doings of Captain Otway Burns and who were 
actuated solely by pride in the career of an illus- 
trious North Carolinian. 



8 



Foremost among these is the Honorable Chief 
Justice Walter Clark, of the Supreme Court of 
North Carolina, who in a letter to the writer says: 
*'You have done great service to the state of North 
Carolina in having the useful and honorable career 
of your grandfather traced out and put upon record. 
This state is too prone to neglect to record the 
fame of her sons who have served her well. In 
neglecting their fame she has neglected her own." 

Kemp Plummer Battle, LL. D., Alumni Profes- 
sor of History in the University of North Carolina, 
has been indefatigable in the research work upon 
this local, as well as national, historical subject, 
and has brought to bear upon the work his sixth, 
or "historical sense" with which he is so eminently 
endowed. 

Mr. Romulus A. Nunn, of Newbern, N. C, 
has proven a most competent and tireless ally, not 
only in the efficient discharge of the onerous duties 
of chairmanship of committees, but in the tedious 
and exacting work of investigation and proof of 
details. Not a portion of his work left his hands 
until he was positive of its full authenticity. 



The writer gratefully acknowledges the many 
courtesies and the willing assistance of all who 
have contributed to the success of this undertaking. 

WaIvTeir Francis Burns. 
New York City, 1905. 



10 



CAPTAIN OTWAY BURNS. 

The deeds and character of Captain Otway 
Burns are most eloquently and graphically described 
in the scholarly and graceful orations which are 
reproduced in their integrity. There is, of course, 
some repetition in the statement of facts ; but the 
use of the collected material by two men of such 
eminent attainments serves to show the workings of 
two trained minds upon the same material. The 
deductions, inferences, and mental processes of a 
trained jurist and of a keen historian acting upon the 
same premises form a study of interesting psycho- 
logical importance. Mutilation for convenience or 
for practical purposes would under these circum- 
stances be unpardonable. 

The oration of the Honorable Chief Justice 
Walter Clark was delivered at Beaufort, N. C, in 
July, 1901, on the occasion of the unveiling of a 
monument erected to the memory of Captain Otway 
Burns by his descendants. It was vastly to the 



II 



honor of the state that a ceremony which might 
easily have been regarded as a family commemo- 
ration was, by the numbers and the eminence of 
those who participated in it from all parts of the 
state, transformed into a tribute from North Caro- 
lina to the memory of one whom her people were 
glad to honor. 



12 



PROGRAM 

of the 

Ceremonial Exercises 

at the Unveihng of the Monument 

erected to the memory of 

CAPTAIN OTWAY BURNS 

by his descendants 

Beaufort, N. C. 

July 24, 1 90 1. 



1. Song ''America.** 

2. Prayer Rev. Thomas P. Noe. 

3. Song "Columbia.'* 

4. Introduction of Orator 

Charles L. Abernathyj Bsq. 

5. Oration Hon. Chief Justice Walter Clark, 

6. t/NVEii^iNG. . .M/^^ Theodora Waltona Wilkens. 

7. Salute Nezvbern Naval Reserves. 

8. Benediction Rev. Mr. Hornaday. 

13 



ORATION BY CHIEF JUSTICE WALTER 
CLARK. 

Ladies and Gentlemen: 

We have met to do honor to the memory of one 
whose Hfe reflected honor on this city and county, 
and on his state and country as well, — one of those 
brave sailors and soldiers,who in our second war with 
Great Britain, maintained the honor of his country 
upon the open seas and carried the starry flag of 
the Union of our fathers to distant latitudes. We 
rarely hear of him now ; but when the past century 
was entering upon its 'teens, fame had no greater 
favorite in these parts than the brave sailor and 
soldier. Captain Otway Burns. Both of these 
names "Otway" and "Burns" are borne to this day 
by many of your citizens as Christian names. No 
surer proof could be had of the respect, admiration, 
and affection inspired by the original bearer of 
these names among the masses of his countrymen. 

15 



The destructive process of the years is strik- 
ingly shown by the small mass of authentic material 
left out of which to construct a narrative of the 
life of one whose smallest actions were once on 
every lip. One by one those cognisant of his deeds 
of daring and courage have passed away. With 
true North Carolina indifference his deeds were 
rarely committed to paper and hence it is now 
perhaps impossible with the utmost diligence to 
compile a narrative of the career of Captain Burns 
which is worthy of him or to give it that interest 
which would attach to a complete and accurate 
statement of the stirring events in which he shared. 

And first I may be pardoned for a word as to 
the historic interest attaching to the city and county 
which are most intimately associated with his fame 
and which hold his ashes and the monument which 
we are about to unveil to his memory today. 

It was your shores which were first espied by 
Amidas and Barlow, July 4, 1584, — three hundred 
and seventeen years ago, in the first exploring ex- 
pedition sent out by England to this continent. 
They proceeded farther up the coast and entered 
one of the inlets above us, probably Ocracoke. The 
next year, 1585, the first English settlement was 

16 



made at Roanoke Island over thirty-five years be- 
fore the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, and 
twenty-two years before the settlement of James- 
town, which was in reality a continuation of the 
one at Roanoke Island, the more commodious one 
at James River being selected as a substitute for 
the rather inaccessible one at Roanoke. 

But aside from that, eight centuries and a half 
of English history are inextricably interwoven in 
the very names of your country and city. On the 
shores of France, where the loud waves of the 
British Channel lash the shores, there lies the town 
or village of Carteret. From thence came the name 
of your historic county. As the steamer speeds 
from St. Malo in France to Southampton, the pas- 
senger standing on deck sees to the right, on a tall 
cliff, the little village of Carteret, containing only 
some 500 inhabitants today. Its aspect faces the 
setting sun, for at that point the. French coast runs 
for many miles nearly north and south. Looking 
further down the coast to the right, near the verge 
of the horizon, is the smoke of a larger town, of 
some 10,000 or 12,000 people which for near 1,000 
years has borne the name of Granville. Still fur- 
ther south, about 100 miles as the crow flies, down 
in the heart of that pleasant land of France in the 

17 



beautiful valley of the Loire, between two swift 
rolling streams, lies the town of Beaufort. From 
thence comes the name of this second Beaufort, 
this fair town which lies around us, — a town whose 
importance is beginning and whose fame and wliose 
limits will grow with the years that are to come. 

How happens it that this country and this city 
founded and peopled by the English speaking people 
should revive and continue the names of French 
towns? Many present doubtless know, but they 
will pardon me if I relate the story to those who 
do not. In the year of our Lord one thousand and 
sixty six, William, of Normandy, ruler of the pro- 
vince of France which borders on the English 
Channel, took steps to add the Kingdom of England 
to his property, — for so they regarded dukedoms and 
kingdoms in those days, when the ownership of the 
people went with the ownership of the soil. He 
gathered himself a brave array of gallant soldiers, 
good knights, needy adventurers, and everyone who 
was willing to fight for love of leader, love of ad- 
venture, or love of plunder. To him, among others, 
came the owner of the village of Carteret, with his 
retainers whom he probably made a captain, and 
the lord of Granville, v/ho was doubtless a colonel 



i8 



or general. At Hastings, William conquered and 
the English land was parcelled out to his adherents. 
Carteret and Granville fared well in England. Dur- 
ing the succeeding centuries their names were prom- 
inent in English history. Reginald de Carteret and 
his seven sons were all made knights in one day by 
Edward III for having held possession of the island 
of Jersey against Bertrand de Guesclin and the 
French. When England became a republic under 
Cromwell, Sir George Carteret went into exile with 
Charles II. On the restoration of that monarch, 
he rewarded this devotion by giving to Carteret 
and seven others the broad domain reaching from 
the Virginia line down to Florida and from the 
Atlantic clear across to the Pacific, under the style 
of the Lords Proprietors. The colonists dutifully 
named one of their precincts Carteret. Sir George 
Carteret's grandson (whom Colonel Wheeler in his 
history has confounded with his grandfather) was 
created first Baron Carteret and married the heiress 
of the Granvilles. He died very young and his son, 
John, Baron Carteret and Earl Granville, was not 
only a Lord Proprietor but a member of the British 
Cabinet and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Walpole 
says he was one of the five greatest men he had 
ever known. When the other Lords Proprietors 



19 



sold out, he retained his one-eighth ownership and 
had it laid off next to the Virginia line which was 
his northern boundary. Portions of his southern 
border you can see to this day in the long straight 
line in the middle of your state which marks on the 
map the southern boundary of Chatham, Randolph, 
Davidson, Rowan, and Iredell. All between that 
straight line, extended east to the Atlantic and west 
to the Pacific, up to the Virginia line (extended 
in like manner to both oceans), — a tract nearly 
seventy miles broad and extending from ocean to 
ocean — he retained in fee simple. No wonder when 
counties were first created in this province in 1729 
one of them was named Carteret and that a little 
later, 1746, when another great county was created, 
it was called Granville. It was his own land, a 
part of his own farm. When the American Revo- 
lution ended in our independence he claimed that 
under the terms of the treaty of peace his right to 
the ownership of that vast territory was protected 
and he had a good show of right, as the treaty is 
worded. He began suit in the United States Court. 
How and why he failed is another story. 

But how about Beaufort? Well, the English 
kings, descendants of William, returned the Norman 
invasion by themselves becoming conquerors of the 

20 



greater part of France. One of the sons of Ed- 
ward III, John of Guant, ''time honored Lancaster", 
acquired among other scraps of property in the 
conquered country this town of Beaufort which 
he gave to some of his illegitimate children, one 
of whom was the great Cardinal Beaufort who con- 
ducted the English King Henry VI, to be crowned 
at Paris as King of France and who presided at 
the trial and conviction of Joan of Arc. He it 
was, when dying, whom Shakespeare makes offer 
to the approaching specter of death. 

''If thou be'est death, I'll give thee England's treasure, 
Enough to purchase such another island, 
So thou wilt let me live and feel no pain." 
And it is to him the king said : 

"Lord Cardinal, if thou thinkest on heaven's bliss, 
Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope. 
He dies and makes no sign ; O, God, forgive him." 
Warwick. "So bad a death argues a monstrous life." 
King Henry. "Forbear to judge, for we are sinners 

all- 
Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close, 
And let us to meditation." 

From a brother of that Cardinal Beaufort was 
descended the Duke of Beaufort who was one of 
the eight Lords Proprietors. The name of whose 
duchy was bestowed upon your city, and from him 
also is descended the present duke who sits as a 



21 



hereditary senator in the British Parhament and 
thorough the female Hne he also numbers among 
his descendants the present King of England. 

Nor does your historic connection with France 
terminate here, for this province was originally 
named Carolena in honor of Charles IX of France 
who is damned to all time and eternity as the author 
of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and it was 
rechristened Carolina when granted to the Lords 
Proprietors by Charles II of England, — himself of 
very indifferent fame. 

For this digression, showing to some extent how 
history is interwoven in the very warp and woof of 
the names of your county and city I trust that in 
an address upon an historic subject I may be par- 
doned both by those who remember these facts and 
by those who, perchance, may have forgotten them. 

Now to this historic <scene came Otvv^ay Burns 
to add by his deeds to the interest which shall al- 
ways linger around the historic names of Beaufort 
and Carteret. 

Otway Burns was born in the county of Onslow, 
named in honor of the famous Speaker Onslow 
afterwards Lord Onslow. He was born on Queen's 
Creek, tvvO miles from Swannsboro in the year 

22 



1775- His father, also named Otwa}- Burns, was 
born at the same place. The father of the .latter, 
Francis Burns, settled in North Carolina in 1734, 
coming from Glasgow, Scotland. As Glasgow is 
not far from Ayreshire he ma}- well have been of 
the same family as the great poet who has made 
the name of Burns a household word wlierever the 
English tongue is spoken or wherever the accents 
of freedom can move the hearts of men. 

Francis Burns lived to a good old age, his 
will probated in 1793, nearly sixty years after his 
arrivar in this country, is still to be seen upon the 
records' of Onslow County. It shows that he was a 
man of considerable wealth for those days. He 
names as his legatees his grandsons Otway Burns 
and Francis, his brother, and also other grand- 
children through his daughters who have married 
into the Spooner, Smith, and Davis families. It 
is thus probable that tlie relatives of Captain Otway 
Burns are numerous in Onslow and adjoining coun- 
ties though he himself left only one son, whose 
descendants, though not numerous, are widely scat- 
tered from Amsterdam to Australia, but none of 
them live in this state. 



23 



Before the war of 1812, Captain Otway Burns 
had attained the command of a merchantman which 
sailed from Newbern, N. C, to Portland, Maine, 
He was on one of these voyages when the smould- 
ering troubles with Great Britain came to a crisis 
by the declaration of war in June, 1812. On this 
arrival at Portland he learned the news and found 
that peaceable commerce was at an end. He took 
his vessel to New York and bought a larger and 
swifter one, previously named the "Levere." He 
altered this into a vessel of war, arm.ed and equipped 
her, changing her name to the ''Snap-Dragon" which 
was destined for three years to be a name of ill- 
omen and terror to the enemy. Taking her to New- 
bern, books of subscription were opened to the cap- 
ital stock which was necessary to be raised to pay 
for the purchase and equipment of the vessel and 
for the defrayal of her expenses. Among the ov/n- 
ers were John Shepard, grandfather of Judge Henry 
R. Bryan, James McKinley, John Harvey and other 
leading men of that day, whose descendants are still 
prominent in business and social circles. 

In recent years there has been an effort in high 
financial circles to discredit privateering. This is 
because that element thinks that war should be con- 



24 



fined to injury to the persons, or destruction of the 
Hves, of the sailors or soldiers (who usually have the 
least interest in the war) but that their property 
should be held sacred and exempt. But privateering, 
which is simply a volunteer navy, dependent upon 
its own enterprises and courage for pay, has always 
been the resort of a weak nation against a superior 
sea-power. It was the rjght arm of this country 
upon the sea in both our wars with Great Britain 
and was resorted to by the Southern Confederacy in 
our late Civil War. 

The legality of privateering is expressly recog- 
nized in the constitution of the United States, Art. 
I, Sec. 8, Clause ii, which empowers Congress to 
issue ''Letters of Marque and Reprisal." Under 
the influence of those largely interested in shipping, 
the merchants of the great sea-ports, many Euro- 
pean nations agreed to a provision in the Treaty 
of Paris, 1856, prohibiting privateers, but the 
United States did not assent to it. The experience 
of the United States and of the Confederate States 
as well has been that the surest way to inculcate 
a desire for peace in that influential element of the 
enemy is for our privateers to lay rude hands upon 
their floating wealth. Shooting at the enemy's 
soldiers and, sailors had no such salutary eflfect. 



During the first six months of the war of 1812 our 
privateers captured 500 merchantmen and several 
thousand prisoners. 

It is proper to add that privateers are only com- 
missioned upon a petition setting forth all the par- 
ticulars required by government. If after investi- 
gation letters are issued, the owners of the privateer 
give bond for the observance of all the regulations 
prescribed by law, one of which is that on the return 
from each voyage a journal giving each day's pro- 
ceedings, with name and value of each capture 
verified by the commanding officer shall be filed 
with the government. No capture is turned over 
until the ownership of the vessel and the legality 
of the capture is adjudged by a court of admiralty. 

It was probably required that application for 
letters of jMarque and Reprisal should be renewed 
before each voyage for we have a copy of the appli- 
cation made by Captain Burns on July i, 18 13. 
In that he specifies that the vessel is of 147 tons 
burthen, named ''Snap-Dragon", number of crew 
75, armament 5 carriage guns, 50 muskets and 4 
blunderbusses, Captain, Otway Burns ; First Lieu- 
tenant, James Brown. In one of his subsequent 
voyages he had a crew of 127 men with De- 

26 



Cokely First Lieutenant, and in the onl}' one of 
which we have a full copy of certified journal, Jan- 
uary-April, 1814, he had a crew of 99 men. 

The journals of all his cruises giving his daily 
doings with lists of officers and men were, of course, 
filed at Washington as required by law. As after 
proper application only the one mentioned can be 
found it is probable they were destroyed with so 
many other archives wdien the British burnt the 
government buildings at Washington in 1814. To 
some extent however, we have information of the 
contents of the journals of two other cruises from 
articles written in the University Magazine in 1855 
and 1856 by someone who had seen copies of these 
logs, presumably the late Governor Sw^ain. Copies 
of the original journals, have been seen by parties 
still living, Dr. J. W. Saunders, of your county, 
Colonel John D. Whitford and possibly others. 

From the synopsis of those given in the Univer- 
sity Magazine the following is condensed. The 
"Snap-Dragon" was a Baltimore clipper and noted 
for her speed. Her armament was two guns (12 
pounders) on each side and a pivot gun. She 
ranged from beyond Newfoundland, where on one 
occasion she tackled an iceberg, when her captain 
was out of a job, down to the northern coast of 

27 



South America near the Equator. She thus pa- 
trolled the whole ocean front, carrying terror to 
the enemy's comnierce and defying his men-of-war, 
and when they were not too big she tackled them 
too, on one occasion as we shall see defeating one 
of 22 guns. Like the Alabama in our late war she 
sometimes placed prize crews on captured vessels 
and sent them into ports and when that was not 
feasible she relieved them of the most valuable 
portion of the cargo and burnt the vessel. 

While the log of the cruise in the spring of 
1814 alone is complete, it is on record that in the 
first seven months. Captain Burns in the ''Snap- 
Dragon" captured two barks, five brigs, and three 
schooners with cargoes valued at one million dollars 
and 250 prisoners. As this was not calculated to 
dampen his energy, we may make some calculation 
of the damage he did to British commerce in the 
nearly three years before the "Snap-Dragon" met 
her fate, and estimate the size of the sentiment for 
peace with Captain Burns built up in the influential 
ship-owning classes in British ports who had no 
liking for war which was made at their expense. 
As long as sailors and soldiers shot each other they 
may not have been much concerned, but when their 

28 



bales of merchandise and their vessels were sacri- 
ficed they clamored for the war to stop. 

Among many incidents it is recorded that Cap- 
tain Burns of the "Snap-Dragon" and Captain 
Almida of the "Kemp" having made some joint 
captures proceeded to make a division in port, when 
the fiery Burns disapproving of the division chal- 
lenged Almida to fight it out at sea. They put to 
sea for that purpose, but happening upon some of 
the enemy's merchant vessels each took a new prize 
and very sensibly dropped the dispute. 

On Captain Burns' first cruise his first adven- 
ture was to fall in with two British men-of-war, 
a frigate and a sloop. By the superior swiftness of 
his vessel he escaped but he was willing to fight 
and shortly falling in with a vessel of 14 guns he 
captured her, this being his first prize. His next 
experience was at the island of St. Thomas when 
he suddenly found himself all but surrounded by 
five British men-of-war, three to windward and 
two to leeward. To deceive them he hoisted Span- 
ish colors but John Bull was too wide awake. He 
knew the cut of her jib and that a Baltimore clipper 
had no business floating Spanish colors. The "Gar- 
land" man-of-war fired a 32-pound shot at the 

29 



''Snap-Dragon" barely missing her and signalled 
the other man-of-war to close in. The latter soon 
had her top-hamper up and crowded all her sail. 
The only possibility of escape was through Sail- 
Rock passage, which was forty miles distant, and 
dead to windward and with three of the hostile 
vessels on that side. With the intuition and the 
prompt decision of a born sailor, Captain Burns 
saw that his only chance was to head his ship direct 
for the Rock, so it could not be seen which side of 
it he would pass. A course was so shaped that all 
the ''Garland's" sails drew on one mast which gave 
the "Snap-Dragon" an advantage. When they ap- 
proached the Rock the "Garland" made signals to 
her companions to cut off Burns' ship when she 
hauled in to choose her passage. They manoeuv- 
ered accordingly. Now came the rub. Captain 
Burns made all his men lie down and took the 
helm himself. The "Sophia" brig was nearest 
and as the "Snap-Dragon" came abreast discharged 
at her a broadside of grape and round shot. In 
the hurry to repeat the fire the "Sophia's" ov/n bul- 
warks were shot away, in the delay the crisis 
wajs over, for in five minutes the "Snap-Dragon" 
had all five of the enemy on the wind and 
out of gunshot for she could "walk the waters 

30 



like a thing of life." When safely out of reach, 
Captain Burns ran up the American colors and 
defiantly fired a gun to tell them goodbye. Next 
day another man-of-war, the "Dominick" chased 
the "Snap-Dragon" but was too slow for her though 
the strong wind carried away the jib-boom and 
two top-mast stays of the latter. 

After this Captain Burns cruised near the island 
of St. Croix and made several small captures. 

One morning about forty miles from Tortola, 
one of the Virgin Islands, the ''Nettler", man-of-war 
which had heard of the doings of the "Snap- 
Dragon" bore down rapidly under full press of 
canvas. "All hands to quarters" was given by Cap- 
tain Burns. When within two miles, the "Nettler", 
seeing her arrival was awaited, suddenly taking in 
her light sails, hauled dead by the wind. The 
"Snap-Dragon" immediately dashed at her and the 
"Nettler" took to her heels. The race lasted from 
7 A. M., to 6.30 P. M., the British vessel passing 
under the guns of the fort in the harbor of Tortola 
half a gunshot ahead. The fort is so situated that 
a vessel may pass by it one way and come out 
another. Later in the evening Burns passed the 
fort hoisting English colors and anchored abreast 



31 



of the town. That night he lowerd his boats which 
passed a battery which they had taken to be a flock 
of sheep but which were guns painted white, and 
quitely pulled up alongside the '"Nettler", when a 
hail followed by a volley of musketry showed them 
that the enemy was ready. Instantly the town was 
in arms, and sky-rockets were traversing the hea- 
vens in all directions. Retreat was the only thing 
to do. The *' Snap-Dragon" hoisted a light to 
guide them, whereupon the whole battery opened 
on her. Extinguishing the light. Burns returned 
the fire with his guns which served equally well to 
guide the retreat. By daylight he was twenty miles 
from the island, doubtless with meditations on the 
unprofitableness of ''going for wool and coming 
back shorn." 

The next day he captured an English vessel 
bound for Santa Cruz. She had on board some 
forty or fifty Guinea negroes and some mechandise. 
He took seventeen or eighteen and, not wishing to 
be troubled with the others, let the vessel go on 
her course. 

Soon after, finding an English vessel in the 
harbor of Santa Cruz, he sent in a boat's crew and 
cut her out. Being loaded with lumber and the 

32 



vessel not very valuable, he burnt her. The *'Snap- 
Dragon" then went into the neutral port of Ponce 
on the south side of Porto Rico to get water and 
stores and sell her captured goods, only enough 
to pay for supplies and the Spanish governor went 
so far as to sell him a very fine long 9-pounder gun. 
Soon after, on the Spanish Main he chased an 
English packet but had to give it up by reason of 
one of those sudden gales which are frequent in 
those latitudes, and which nearly proved fatal to 
the "Snap-Dragon." Burns did not leave the deck 
the whole night. At daylight he placed one of his 
officers in charge and had just gone below when a 
shift of wind followed by a tremendous wave 
knocked the vessel on her beam ends in the trough 
of the sea, filling the waist with water and setting 
some of the guns adrift. Burns immediately got 
on deck, secured the guns, and wore the vessel 
around on another tack. The pumps showed three 
feet of water in the hold, and it took three hours 
to pump her out when it was discovered that the 
plank sheer had started for more that thirty feet. 
Fortunately the gale had abated and the ship was 
saved ; but all admitted that but for Burns' sea- 
manship and prompt decision the vessel would have 
gone to the bottom. 



33 



The "Snap-Dragon" then bore away to Mara- 
caibo, in South America, to repair damages. The 
governor gave the requisite permission and invited 
the officers to dine with him. Learning that seven 
or eight sail of EngHsh vessels were close by, the 
*^Snap-Dragon" sailed among them like a hawk 
among partridges capturing three and running one 
ashore. Some days afterwards, Captain Burns fell 
in with four large ships. He soon decided that 
one was a man-of-war disguised as a merchantman, 
but some of his officers, grumbling. Burns told them 
*'he had as many friends in British prisons as they 
had and was just as willing as they were to pay 
them a visit and he now would show them that he 
was not deceived." So he sailed up nearer. To 
his first shot the concealed man-of-war replied by 
a broadside of grape and canister and, giving chase, 
nearly overhauled the ''Snap-Dragon", but when 
offixers and men were ready to pack their baggage 
for a trip to England, Captain Burns by most 
adroit seamanship evaded capture till night enabled 
him to escape. An English vessel from Curacoa 
captured by him a few days later gave the infor- 
m.ation that the ship from which he had so narrowly 
escaped was the ''Fawn" sloop-of-war and that she 



34 



had g-one into Curacoa with the report that she had 
sunk the Yankee privateer. 

Having- occasion to land some EngHsh prison- 
ers, at their request at a port in Venezuela, the 
Spanish governor seized the boat and crew sent to 
put them ashore. Thereupon Captain Burns cap- 
tured a felucca with one hundred men on board 
belonging to that port and threatened to hang the 
last one of them in two hours if his boat and crew 
were not sent back. This message being sent 
ashore, the missing boat and men were sent back to 
him with wonderful alacrity. Sailing towards Car- 
tagena he came upon a Spanish brig of 12 guns 
and another of 8 guns in company with an English 
vessel. Burns captured the latter though the com- 
mander of the Spanish vessel threatened to fight. 
He went into port soon after, whereupon they got 
the captured vessel between themselves and the fort 
and forced the prize-master to surrender. The 
vessel was finally given up after the Spaniards had 
robbed it of everything they could lay their hands 
on. There were 15 or 20 English vessels in the 
harbor but they prevailed upon the Spanish com- 
mander of the fort, doubtless by bribery, to lay an 
embargo upon Burns for a v/eek during which time 
they all got out of his reach. 



35 



In his journal interesting accounts are given 
of the people at the various ports in South America 
and in the West Indies where he went ashore. Off 
Cape Florida he engaged an English privateer of lo 
guns. He killed several of her men and unshipped 
several of her long guns when she bore away and 
ran into the reefs. 

Next he came upon what was thought to be an 
English ship from Havana, but heaving a shot ahead 
of her she rounded to showing herself a brig with 
20 guns mounted. To the relief of some on board 
she proved to be Spanish. Captain Burns then 
headed for Beaufort Harbor. When near there he 
gave chase to a small vessel which soon, to Burns' 
great amusement pretended to be poling where he 
well knew there was seven fathoms of water. After 
giving them a good fright, Burns came up with the 
vessel which proved to. be manned by some of his 
old acquaintances. This was off Swansboro and 
he got into Beaufort that evening after a voyage 
of six months, discharged the crew and put the 
vessel into the carpenter's hands for repairs. 

In a short time the "Snap-Dragon" was ready 
for another cruise. Forty or fifty men came on 
from Norfollc where Burns had opened another 

36 



rendezvous. The agents of the owners wrote on 
to New York and got a First Lieutenant named 
Brown, who came highly recommended. He was 
a fine-looking man but a martinet and before Burns 
took charge had a part of the men in irons to "tame 
them" he said, and everything was topsy-turvy, but 
as soon as Burns took command he had the men 
discharged from confinement and "tamed" the lieu- 
tenant. He set sail from Beaufort with a crew of 
127 fine men. Hearing that the British vessel 
"Highflyer" was waiting on him off the coast he 
went to find her, but the vessel was the American 
privateer "Raleigh" of Baltimore. Captain Burns 
then laid his course for Newfoundland. Off the 
Grand Bank he overhauled a large vessel which 
showed the American colors. Burns had his doubts, 
so he sent an officer aboard in British uniform who 
looked at the captain's papers and told him that he 
must send his ship as a prize to Halifax. There- 
upon the captain told him that in fact he was British 
himself and showed the ship's genuine papers the 
American ones having been forged. He simply gave 
himself away. 

Some days later Captain Burns made three sail 
off Cape Race. After a short action a brig and a 
ship struck their colors but the third, a fine brig 

37 



of 10 guns, tried to escape. After a seven hour's 
chase she struck without firing a gun. It was a 
fine brig and the cargo was invoiced at $400,000. 
A prize-master and crew were put aboard, but a 
fortnight afterwards he bore down ten miles to 
speak a supposed American frigate which proved to 
be EngHsh. By this bad management the prize was 
recaptured and the prize crew in her sent to Dart- 
moor prison. 

• A few days after the "Snap-Dragon" took two 
brigs and a schooner. 

The next day thereafter she engaged a well- 
manned brig of 12 guns. Soon the horizon was 
full of vessels attracted by the firing. An English 
frigate under full said bore down, whereupon Burns 
moved away. He soon left his pursuer out of sight 
and ran into an outward bound fleet of about forty 
sail from St. John's to England, which were under 
the frigate's convoy. Boarding seven or eight of 
them he found that they were all laden with lumber 
and let them go untouched, as he disapproved of 
the wanton destruction of property, though he could 
have burned half of them before the frigate could 
have come up. Of¥ St. John's he next captured a 
valuable prize loaded with dry-goods and started 

38 



her for home under a prize crew but she was recap- 
tured in a few days. 

Next day he met a lo gun brig. Coming up on- 
her lee quarter he ordered her to cease firing and 
strike her colors which was immediately done. Her 
cargo was invoiced at $350,000. A prize crew was 
put into her and she was started for home even 
while the ''Rifleman" sloop-of-arms was bearing 
down under full canvas to give chase. Finding that 
he was going to lose both the ''Snap-Dragon" and 
the prize, the "Rifleman" turned to recapture the 
prize ; whereupon Burns turned and became chaser. 
Then the "Rifleman" turned to chase Burns. As 
his guns were 18-pound carronades and Burns' long 
pivot gun was only a 12-pounder the enemy had the 
advantage but night coming on the "Rifleman" 
lost both vessels. However some liquor had been 
left in the prize and the master and crew getting 
drunk she was recaptured 20 days later between 
Bermuda and Cape Henry. 

Captain Burns' strict orders to all prize masters 
was to run South and East of Bermuda, for from 
there to Cape Henry was a line of British cruisers 
the whole war and it was impossible to get into 
Ocracoke or Beaufort by any other method. Every 

39 



master that disobeyed him vvas taken to Dartmoor 
and remained until the peace. Several masters and 
sailors died at Dartmoor which was an English 
stockade containing many thousand of French and 
other prisoners, in short it was the Elmira or Point 
Lookout of that day. Captain Burns in his journal 
says the he was cursed with a miserable set of 
prize masters whose incompetence, drunkenness, or 
disobedience caused the recapture of many prizes 
which he had taken. 

Off the Grand Bank the "Snap-Dragon" again 
came near foundering and was again saved only by 
the admirable seamanship of her commander. One 
of Captain Burns' maxims was that if a vessel could 
scud nine miles an hour, no sea could board her. 
Abreast of St. John's several coasters were cap- 
tured but allowed to go on their way as their 
cargoes were only lumber. One morning a schoo- 
ner was described with no guns visible, but the 
Captain (Fox) who had been taken in the last 
brig warned Captain Burns (to whom he had taken 
a liking) that it was the man-of-war "Adonis" of 
14 guns. About 200 yards distance her commander 
became frightened lest he should be boarded opened 
his ports and gave a broadside of grape and can- 

40 



ister. This was returned with good-will and a 
sharp conflict ensued, 5 guns against 14. In the 
very height of it, Burns' new lieutenant. Brown, 
who had been sent to him from New York quit his 
station and ran to tell Burns he would be taken in 
five minutes. Burns broke his speaking-trumpet 
over his head and ordered him back to his post. 
The "Snap-Dragon" sailed around the ''Adonis" as 
the log says ''like a cooper hammering a cask" but 
finally both parties hauled off, only four men being 
wounded on the "Snap-Dragon". It was after- 
wards learned that 3 were killed and 5 wounded on 
the "Adonis". Burns promptly broke Brown for 
cowardice and sent him to the forecastle among 
the men, and made DeCokely first lieutenant. A 
few hours later a brig of 8 guns was chased and 
captured without firing a shot. 

Next day off Cape Francis, Burns fell in with a 
fleet of English Fisherman, ninety sail of from forty 
to one hundred tons each. Burns hoisted English 
colors and exchanged rum with them for fish. One 
old fellow came aboard and, being invited into the 
cabin, said : "This does not look like one of our 
English vessels, but we do not care so she does 
not trouble us." The "Snap-Dragon" stayed with 
them all day and caught some 500 or 600 fish. 

41 



Burns sent the captain of marines and 25 men ashore 
to a Httle fishing town where they passed for Eng- 
lishmen and were poHtely treated. Just as the men 
were coming back a sail hove in sight and Burns 
fearing she was a cruiser stood off. He afterwards 
learned that she was from Bordeaux for Baltimore 
laden with silks, wines, and brandies. 

Next he ''cruised as far north as 55 degrees, 
30 minutes which is close to Cape Farewell in 
Greenland. Discovered some large islands of ice 
being icebergs that had grounded. On top of one 
of them was a pond of rain-water. This water 
being pure, the crew fell to and filled forty casks.'* 

The writer in the University Magazine says 
that there was here an interruption in the copy of the 
log before him and that where it resumes it gives 
an account of the *' Snap-Dragon" being chased, and 
throwing overboard $150,000 worth of goods; but 
soon after the ''Snap-Dragon" captured 10 brigs 
and schooners of which a list is given. One of 
these was made a cartel and 98 prisoners placed 
in her upon signing a pledge of honor not to bear 
arms against the United States until exchanged. 
This as done June 24, 1813, long. 53 W. lat. 46 
north, which is off Newfoundland and here followed 
tiie names of the 98 signers of the parole. 

42 



The "Snap-Dragon'' started for home with one 
of her prizes. A cruiser coming up, Burns boldly 
made for it and it withdrew. He did not pursue, 
as all he wanted to do was to protect his prize. 
Being nearly out of provisions and water he had 
to leave the prize, which, however, got into Beau- 
fort ten days after the "Snap-Dragon" arrived, 
which his journal says he did "after a cruise of two 
months, twenty-one days, in which he had cap- 
tured one and a half millions property from the 
enemy." 

One of the supercargoes Burns had taken was 
a very gentlemanly man. He claimed four cases 
of goods worth $4,000 as his private property. 
Burns gave them up to him and also gave him 
$,1,000 out of his own pocket to carry him back 
to St. John's where he belonged. Another of like 
character, one Campbell, was very useful in the 
auction room and was allowed commissions. One 
of the purchasers claiming a more valuable package 
that he had bought, Campbell refused to give it up» 
Whereupon the other, being a larger man, abused 
and struck him. Captain Burns, on learning this, 
went at once to the auction room and reprimanded 
the fellow for abusing a prisoner, and pulled his 

43 



nose for him, which the cowardly fellow did not 
resent. Burns also made Campbell a present of 
$500. 

After paying every expense, the men on this 
cruise received each $3,000 for his share. 

These two cruises of which the above synopsis 
is given, and the cruise of January-April, 1814, of 
which the log is the only one now existing are the 
only ones of which any record has been preserved. 
These three voyages covered less than twelve months 
of the two yeairs and a half that the war lasted, 
but they show that Captain Otway Burns was a 
brave, daring man, an accomplished sailor, quick 
to perceive and decide — in truth a very Viking of 
the seas. The punishment he inflicted on the enemy 
was terrible, and the profits of some of his cruises 
were magnificent. From the journal which we have 
entire of the cruise from 20th of January to the 
nth of April 1814. we learn that this was probably 
his most unprofitable venture, being richer in glory 
than in pecuniary recompense. The enemy's mer- 
chantmen had, doubtless, by that time been fright- 
ened from the seas. 

In this log the officers and men are given as 
follows : 



44 



Otway Burns, Commander: Benj. D. Coakley, 
1st Lieutenant; James Guthrie, 2nd Lieutenant; 
Joseph F, Anthony, 3rd Lieutenant; Thomas Bar- 
ker, Captain of Marines ; David Wallace, Lieutenant 
of Marines ; Alexander Glover, Sergeant of Ma- 
rines ; Joseph Maires, Su'rgeon ; John Gardner, 
Assistant Surgeon ; James Smith, Sail Master ; 
Moses Horn, Purser ; John Parker, Steward : Israel 
Dyer, Gunner ; Eli Crawfdrd, Master's Mate ; Tho- 
mas Green, (killed), Boatswain ; William B. Reddey, 
Drummer. The Prize Masters were: Gilbert D| 
Gerry, Simon Pendleton, Gabriel Penn, Samuel S. 
Pendleton, Theophilus S. Fitch, William Fulford, 
(6). Boat Mates: Peter Cutler, Richard C. Miller, 
and Theodore Stickney, (3). Prize Masters Mates, 
Turner Glawhorn, and George Trath, (2). Able 
Seamen : Alexander Babcock, Edward Bridgedon 
(killed), Henry Fletcher (lost an arm), Henry 
Weaver, John Edgar, William Burns (killed), 
James Ballantine, Isaac Clark (shot in thigh), John 
Shilling, Charles Moore (killed), Alexander Kon- 
non, Arthur Orr, Aaron Plase, John Hendrich, 
Royer Simpson, William Colhonn, Nicholas Hen- 
drickson, James Leonard, Isaac Thomas, John 
Taylor, James Starbuck, Nicholas Bencher, John 
Williams, Charley Jordan, John vSmith, Sims Stud- 

45 



ley, Christopher Kelly, William Smith, John Dizer, 
Joseph Peter, John Doyle, Joseph Alexander 
(killed), John Lougon, Constant Doby, Peter Van- 
Burgen, Nathaniel Crosby, William Watts, Toney 
John, William Cargon, Charles Williams, Thomas 
Davis, (41). Ordinary Seamen: John Peter, Alex- 
ander Taylor, Peter Pohn, John Mason, John John- 
son, (5). Marines: Nat Ov/ens, Peter McFarlan, 
Henry Frobiis, Samuel Dyer, William Edds, George 
Doye, Allen Thomas, (7). Gunner Seamen: Jabe 
Wright, Peter John, Alexander Cummings, Joseph 
Davis, Jakeman Emery, William Frederic, John 
Wallace, (7). Boys: Peter Galea, John Durong, 
James Jones, John Lewis, John Eubon, Francis 
Barie, Peter Sullivan, Arnett Latham, David Lewis, 
John White, (10). Cook: Jamies Belcher. Cook's 
Mate: James Cajjo. 

Total : 99, of v^^hom 4 were killed and 2 perma- 
nently disabled on that cruise. The slightly wounded 
are not even named. 

This log shows that on 20 January, 18 14, the 
''Snap-Dragon" crossed the bar here at Beaufort at 
7 o'clock and saluted the fort. On the 22nd Cap- 
tain Burns chased a British vessel which struck 
her colors but got away because the sea was too 

46 



"boisterous to board her. On the 24th overhauled 
a vessel, but she proved to be a Swedish schooner 
from St. Barts for Rhode Island. Soon after started 
chase of a half armed vessel which escaped 
under cover of night. The next day chased a 
vessel that proved to be an American vessel from 
St. Domingo for Boston. On Tuesday, 8 Febru- 
ary 1814 two vessels fired into him, and gave chase, 
but the *'Snap-Dragon" showed them a clean pair 
of heels. By this time she was well down in the 
West Indies. On the 12th boarded a Portuguese 
vessel. On Sunday, 13th, Captain Burns records 
that he put two of the crew in irons ''for introducing 
themselves to a water cask when the ship's company 
was on allowance." On the i6th he bore down on 
a strange sail, but finding that it was a large man- 
of-v/ar ''left her" as he very laconically says. On 
the 22nd the vessel began to leak and besides being 
short of water on the 23rd he entered the river 
Arawari. The tide falling he got stuck in the mud. 
March ist having gotten off, he saw a strange sail 
and gave chase. It proved to be a ship carrying 22 
guns. The following is a verbatim copy of Captain 
Burns' own words in describing the result of the 
contest between his 5 guns and the enemy's 22. 
It shows the style of fighting at a time when ships 

47 



lay and fought side by side, yard-arm and yar.d-arm, 
and when men did not 

"With a hankering for existence, 

Keep merely firing at a foolish distance." 

Here is Captain Burns' statement from his jour- 
nal which was filed under oath with the government 
on his return. He was at the time just off Surinam, 
or Dutch Guiana, as we style it, on the northern 
coast of South America. 

''Thursday, 3 March, 1814. Commenced plea- 
sant light rain about 10 P. M. At 5 A. M. made a 
strange sail to leeward, at 6 gave chase, about 7 
gave her a gun and hoisted American colors, she 
answered us with another and hoisted English col- 
ors. At half-past we engaged her and a regular 
and constant fire was kept up by both parties ; the 
enemy, perceiving that we designed boarding, ma- 
noeuvred his ship with great skill for a considerable 
time. At 11.30 got our musketry to bear on her. 
Orders were given to hoist red flag forward, 20 
minutes past noon we got on the enemy's quarter. 
They, perceiving that we meant boarding, gave us 
several stern guns which injured our sail and rig- 
ging very much. We kept up a constant fire, of 
great and small guns. At 1.30 orders were given 

48 



to board. The enemy put his helm hard up to run 
us down; his fore chains took our jib-boom and 
bow-sprit; he endeavored to haul down his colors 
and got them as far as the gaff. At that instant 
our bow-sprit gave way, and our fore-mast went 
by the board. The schooner then fell ofif as quick 
as two vessels could. The enemy then rallied his 
men, let off the men that had boarded him, hoisted 
his colors, and made the most of a good wind. All 
hands on board of us were called to clear the wreck, 
our shrouds, sails, and top-mast being shot away. 
Our colors were shot away, but were immediately 
tied in the main rigging. The pumps were sounded, 
and we found that she had no water. We then 
rigged a jury-mast and at length set our jib and 
at 4 made sail on the vessel. Our sails, rigging, 
and hull are much damaged and our boat completely 
ruined. The enemy's force is not known. She is 
a large ship coppered to her bends, mounts 22 guns, 
and fought desperately using round, grape, canister, 
and cold shot. They beat off our boarders with 
pistols, cutlasses, boarding spikes, hand spikes, and 
the above cold shot were thrown. When some were 
swarming on board, they threw stink-pots, bricks 
and glass bottles. We do not know her loss, but 
suppose she lost considerable, as blood ran out of 



49 



her lee scuppers, and her hull received damage from 
chain and star shot. We lost 4 men killed, viz : 
Thos. Green, boatswain; Wm. Barnes, John Hart, 
and Charles Nurse (of color) ; and 7 wounded, viz: 
Edward A. Brigden, Wm. Rogers, Henry Fletcher, 
Theodore Stickney, Isaac Clark, Malea and Peter 
George. B^ridgen lost his right arm, and Fletcher 
had a severe wound in his thigh. Thus ends an 
action that forces us to run to some port to repair 
owing to our losing our mast. Had the mast stood 
she was our prize. We were so near Surinam we 
heard guns from the battery. Lat. 5 degrees, 58 
min. N. Long. 55 degrees, 15 min. W." 

Thus the brave sailor told the round unvarnished 
tale of the fight between his 5 guns and the enemy's 
22 guns. And hear the old sea-dog's growl at the 
end: ''had our mast stood the prize was ours." 
There is something of Paul Jones in that brave old 
North Carolinian. The state may well be proud 
of him. It was long before the enemy forgot him. 

The log says that on the 7th of March, three 
days after the fight on the 4th, he crossed the bar 
and ran some twenty miles up the Arawari river. 
Lieutenant Anthony and some men went ashore 
on a raft, got timber, and went to work to repair 

50 



the vessel. On the 12th the authorities sent some 
men from Angostura to know what he was doing, 
to whom he repHed that he wanted only water 
and repairs. On the following days, having gotten 
off, he gives us the names of vessels and their 
captains he met ; but none of the British. From one 
of them he learned of a battle between the South 
American Republicans, then trying to establish their 
independence, and the Royalists (Spanish), in which 
the latter, 1500 in number, were annihilated, only 
three escaping, for no quarter was given. On the 
14th he gave chase to a strange sail, but found she 
was the American ship ''Saratoga" and learned that 
another ship the ''Comet" had beaten two British 
privateers, one of 22 guns and another of 19, after 
fighting eighteen hours. 

On the 24th he boarded a schooner floating Swe- 
dish colors but she proved to be an American vessel 
which had been captured by the British frigate 
"Cleopatra" and had a prize crew aboard. He 
chan,eed crews, put his own prize master, Simon 
Pendleton, with Theodore Stickney as mate, and 
a crew, aboard and ordered her to the United States. 
On April 7th he made Cape Lookout light-house, 
saw a light off Ocracoke, fired a gun for a pilot, 
and, finally, after beating back and forth, came to 

51 



anchor off Shell Castle. He was lightered and then 
proceeded up Nense River. At ii A. M. on Satur- 
day, 9th of April, came to anchor off the old county- 
wharf, Newberne. "So ends," says the journal, 
"a cruise commenced for four months' abridged by 
an accident to 79 days. Fired a salute at a quarter 
past II." This is signed by Otway Burns, and 
duly verified by him (with a full list of crew an- 
nexed) before Francis Hawks, Collector of the Port. 
The ''accident" so mildy referred to was his fight 
with a 22 gun ship. 

This was, probably, the most unprofitable voyage 
he made. Game had become scarce. The doves 
had become frightened and hostile hawks were 
plentiful. The prowess of Captain Burns and 
other brave sailors had dx^iven British merchantmen 
from the seas and, in their stead, the ocean was 
swarming with British men-of-war and privateers. 

The last cruise of the "Snap-Dragon" was made 
under command of Lieutenant DeCokely, Captain 
Burns being laid up with rheumatism contracted 
in the great exposure to which he had been sub- 
jected. The British prepared a special man-of-war, 
the "Leopard", for their old enemy, and concealed 
the guns, so that she might seem to be a merchant- 
s' 



man. Captain Burns, as we have seen, had always 
detected that trick by his close observation, but 
Lieutenant DeCokely fell into the snare. He ran 
up too close to get away when the "Leopard" opened 
her broadside upon him. The "Snap-Dragon" 
fought with her old time courage, as if instinct with 
life, but when her commander, DeCokely, and others 
lay dead on deck and many of the rest wounded, 
the "Snap-Dragon" lowered her flag to the enemy 
for the first time in her whole career. She was 
carried to England and the crew to Dartmoor prison. 
A very old man, Redmond Stanley, within the 
memory of living men, resided at Kenansville, and 
told a stirring tale of that last fight of the gallant 
ship, and of his experience in Dartmoor prison. 
It is much to be regretted that no one took down 
his narrative for succeeding generations. 

During the war of 1812, there were some 300 
soldiers, mostly militia, at Fort Macon, just opposite 
Beaufort. On one occasion, when Burns was in 
port, some of them having gotten into a row with 
citizens of the town while drunk, were being rough- 
ly handled. They called out the rest of their com- 
rades to whom some of the ofiicers very foolishly 
issued 12 rounds of ammunition per man. Captain 
Burns interposed and his exertions alone saved 



53 



bloodshed. One of the soldiers, however, struck 
him and Burns promptly knocked the man down. 
When this news reached the ears of the crew of 
the *'Snap-Dragon" they came en masse to avenge 
the insult. It required all Burns' eloquence to 
quiet his men, who very probably would have taken 
the fort and all the militia. 

In his journal. Captain Burns relates the great 
difficulty he always had to prevent his men from 
being swindled out of their prize money and pay 
by men, whom he bitterly denounces as being usually 
Tories, — the very class of men who had opposed 
the war and thrown every obstacle in the way of its 
successful prosecution. Probably every age and 
every country has the same class of men to afflict 
it, but doubtless there were very few of them in 
this section. 

It is narrated of Captain Burns that on one 
occasion, when his vessel was in part at Beaufort, 
a boat coming over from the fort with four men 
and an officer capsized. As the boat was carried 
out by the tide, the four men, when opposite the 
point, tried to swim ashore and two of them 
drowned. The officer, James Chadwick, doubtless 
of the well-known Carteret county family, held on 

54 



to the boat and was saved when two miles out to 
sea by the most strenuous efforts of Captain Burns 
and his gunner. 

Having amassed a large fortune, Captain Otway 
Burns, after the war built a fine residence in Beau- 
fort near the spot where the Atlantic Hotel after- 
wards stood and resided there twenty-two years. 
His great services were remembered both by the 
people of his native state and the Federal Govern- 
ment. From 1 82 1 to 1834, he served twelve years 
in the General Assembly, seven years in the House 
of Commons and five years in the Senate, being thus 
elected twelve times, as the elections were annual 
at that time. After 1834 he declined re-election. 
During his service in the Senate, in that year, the 
county of Yancey was formed in the western part 
of the state, named in honor of Bartlett Yancey one 
of the greatest men the state produced. In honor 
of Captain Burns' distinguished services on the sea, 
and partly also for his breadth of view in supporting 
the creation of the western county, its beautiful 
county seat was named Burnsville. It is the high- 
est above sea-level of any town in the United States 
east of the Rocky Mountains. So Captain Burns' 
fame may be said to have gone through every gra- 
dation to the highest level then attainable. 

55 



His only child, Owen Burns, born in 1810, was 
a chip of the old block. He was appointed a mid- 
shipman by the United States government in 1824; 
promoted to Master on the ''John Adams" in the 
Mediterranean Squadron in 183 1 ; commissioned 
Lieutenant in the United States Navy April 8, 1834; 
and resigned in 1840. His last service was three 
years in the "Falmouth" man-of-war in the Pacific. 
Captain Otway Burns, himself, was appointed to 
the charge of the "Brant Island Shoal Light" by 
President Andrew Jackson in 1835 and was thence- 
forward in the service of the United States govern- 
ment until his death. 

In 1820, Captain Burns built for a company at 
Wilmington the "Prometheus", the first steamer 
that plied on the waters of the Cape Fear. The 
vessel was carried around to Wilmington, Captain 
Burns being in charge and one, Snyder, being the 
engineer. When it was announced that the long- 
expected steamer was in the water, and had turned 
the "Dam Tree' below Wilmington, the bells were 
rung, cannon were fired and the entire population 
turned out without regard to age, sex, or color. 
As she neared Market Dock, Captain Burns ap- 
peared on deck in his brilliant uniform with cocked 
hat and epaulets. There being no speaking-tubes 

56 



iY'(^^^W''M^^:§^^M^^^'' 



mm^^ 



^j^WmmMmmv?m 



CAPTAIN ()\\t;x EURXS 



or electric bells in those days, he raised his speak- 
ing trumpet to his lips and there rang out in sten- 
torian tones like the bellow of some monster of the 
deep, the command to the engineer: "Give it to 
her, Snyder." This became for long years a stand- 
ing phrase on the Cape Fear something like the 
"Let her go, Gallagher" of recent days. 

In 1823, Captain Burns built the brig "Warrior" 
and in 1831, the brig "Henry". The timbers were 
staunch live-oak which came from Shackleford and 
Bogue banks. Both vessels engaged in the West 
India and also the coast-wise trade which was profi- 
table then. He also built a small two-masted sail- 
boat, naming her the "Snap-Dragon" and put a 
"center-board" in her, — ^the first ever known in this 
section. She could beat any boat in Core Sound 
sailing. 

Captain Otway Burns married in 1809 a Miss 
Grant, daughter of Reuben Grant of Onslow county. 
By his marriage he had one child Owen Burns, 
born in 1810, who, as already stated, became a lieu- 
tenant in the United States Navy. 

After the death of his first wife, he married, 
December 4, 1814, Miss Jane Hall of Beaufort; 
and for her the handsome residence was built. 



57 



After her death, he married Miss Jane Smith of 
Smyrna N. C, on February 22nd, 1842, and moved 
to Portsmouth, N. C, where he Hved until his death, 
which, according to the best accounts, occurred 
August 25th, 1850, his wife preceding him to the 
grave. By his second and third wife he had no 
issue. Portsmouth, at that time, was a port of 
entry, a sea-side resort, and a prosperous town of 
more than a thousand inhabitants. But very appro- 
priately his body was brought back and buried in 
Beaufort whence he had so often gone forth on his 
bold expeditions against the enemy and to which 
he had always returned with added honor. 

His only child, Captain Owen Burns, married 
in 1849, Miss Martha Armstrong, daughter of 
Solomon Armstrong, and grand-daughter of Gen- 
eral John Armstrong, an officer of the Revolution. 
The only living descendents of Owen Burns are his 
seven -sons, a daughter and ten grand-children. 

1. I. R. Burns, who resides in New York City 
and Daytona, Florida. He has an only daughter 
Bessie Burns Hulse. 

2. X. Eugene Burns, a fruit grower in Santa 
Clara Co., San Francisco, Cal., who has an only 
daughter Eugenia Burns Hulse. 

58 




MONUMENT OF CAPTAIN OWEN I'.URNS. 



3- Richard Jerome Burns, who resides in Chi- 
cago, has an only son Grindall Jerome Burns. 

4, Charles O. Burns, President C. O. Burns 
Co., New York City. 

5. Walter Francis Burns, of Inwood, New 
York City, vice-president and general manager of 
the W. F. Burns Co., has two sons, Walter Francis 
Burns, Jr., and Otway Burns. 

6. Edwin Oscar Burns, San Francisco, Cal., 
who has a daughter Martha Burns and a son Owen 
Burns. 

7. Owen Burns, of the W. F. Burns Co., who 
resides in Chicago. 

The only daughter Lillian lives at Inwood, New 
York City and is married to John Anthony Wilkens, 
of Rotterdam, Holland. They have an only child 
the charming young lady of four, Theodora Wal- 
tona Wilkens, who will do us the honor to pull the 
cord at the unveiling of the monument to her dis- 
tinguished ancestor. She is accompanied by her 
mother and father and her uncle, Walter Francis 
Burns, son of Captain Owen Burns. The cannon 
by the monument is one of those which helped to 
earn fame for the *' Snap-Dragon" and her gallant 
captain and crew. Its roar was music in their ears 
in many a fight in those long-vanished days. 

59 



Like all men who have performed distinguished 
service in their day, myths have already gathered 
around the name of Captian Otway Burns. One of 
them, repeated without investigation in ''Wheeler's 
Reminiscences", is that his residence was crowned 
by an observatory from whence Captain Burns 
scanned the horizon for a strange sail and kept the 
crew of his vessel in readiness to rush out and 
seize it. Aside from the absurdity of keeping a 
crew under, constant pay for such precarious ser- 
vice, it is sufficient to say that, first, the house was 
not built until after the war, and secondly, during 
the war English merchantmen had no possible des- 
tination that could bring them within sight of our 
coast. Captain Burns had to go to seek them where 
they could be found, in the West India trade and 
oft the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. 
The idle story, doubtless, arose from the fact that 
his handsome house, after the war, had an obser- 
vatory from which, with his old-time fondness for 
the sea the gallant old sailor would often sweep 
the horizon with his glass. 

A most remarkable mis-statement in regard to 
a man whose actions had been so distinguished and 
had lived so much in the public eye, being also for 
the last thirty years of his life in State or Federal 

60 



III "f ■!' f " ■■" '. " '* 


^ 



To.Mi; (II' Sdl.o.MO.X .XK.MS'I'RUXG 



service, was one recently made by an anonymous 
correspondent in the ''Newbern Journal" to the 
effect that Captain Burns was the pirate who made 
the ill-fated Theodosia, daughter of Aaron Burr 
and wife of Governor Alston of South Carolina, 
''walk the plank". She was lost at sea probably 
in a gale, in January 1813. There is no proof that 
she was taken by pirates, and, certainly no vindi- 
cation of such a charge is needed by Captain Burns 
or the brave men of this and adjoining counties who 
served under him. The outrageous and absurd in- 
sult to one of the most gallant men North Carolina 
has ever produced was promptly answered by two 
of your distinguished fellow-citizens, Dr. J. W. San- 
ders, formerly Senator from Carteret, and Major 
Graham Davis. I only allude to the matter, which 
is unpleasant to mention, to impress upon North 
Carolinians the necessity of greater care in pre- 
serving our records and the memory of the great 
deeds performed by those who, like Captain Burns, 
have reflected honor upon our state and her people. 
Captain Burns was as humane to his prisoners 
as any man who ever walked a quarter-deck. But 
while he was fighting it was a ''fight for a funeral." 
One of the captured commanders asserted that 
Burns having run short of ammunition, had loaded 

61 



his last gun with sail-needles. That enemy proba- 
bly got into port "sewed up." The red flag spoken 
of in his journal was the signal to board the enemy. 

As long as Carteret and Onslow can furnish men 
who shall guard our ocean front with the courage 
and the fidelity displayed by Otway Burns and the 
brave men under his command we need fear no 
enemy. 

They did well to bury Otway Burns here by the 
sounding sea, in the hearing of the waves whose 
rolling had been his lullaby in life. In the sea's 
wildest mood he was its master, and rode on its crest 
to fame and fortune. Judged with allowance for 
the means at his disposal, Otway Burns and his 
famous vessel were full peer to the "Alabama" 
under Raphael Semmes or the "Shenandoah" under 
the gallant Waddell. 

There is a fascination to all who gaze on yon 
wild waves' incessant play. Standing by its side, 
how small seem the actions of us petty men on 
the shore. On the ocean the real drama of history 
has always been played and the nation which con- 
trols it, is master of the world while that dominion 
lasts. That dominion has passed from nation to 
nation as the centuries have passed av/ay, but un- 

62 



caring, unknowing, and unchanged itself, the ocean 

has not ceased to roll. 

"Thy shores are empires changed in all save thee, — 
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? 
Thy waters wasted them while they were free. 

And many a tyrant since. 
Unchangeable, save to thy wild waves' play, 
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow ; 
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now. 
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form 

Glasses itself in tempests ; 
Dark-heaving, boundless, endless, and sublime, 
The image of eternity, the throne of the Invisible." 
To one who dared thy fiercest moods and loved 
them all, the brave sailor and soldier, 

CAPTAIN OTWAY BURNS, 

we now unveil his monument. 



f>2, 



PRESENTATION 

01^ A PORTRAIT OF 

CAPTAIN OTWAY BURNS 

TO THE 

State of North Carolina 
October 30, 1901. 

"That was a most interesting ceremony in the 
hall of the House of Representatives — indeed a 
most valuable contribution to the history of the 
state — ^the presentation of a portrait of a patriot 
son who rendered his state and country valiant and 
able service in their early struggles, and the sketch 
of him and of his deeds so well delivered by Dr. 
Kemp P. Battle. It was a graceful act on the part 
of Mr. Walter Francis Burns of New York, a 
grandson of this state, to present to the state the 
portrait of his distinguished grandfather. Captain 
Otway Burns, who commanded a privateer in the 
war of 1812, and served his state as a legislator 
later, the subject of Dr. Battle's most interesting 
address last night. Dr. Battle always does his work 
well, and this production is but another of his very 
many valuable contributions to our State's histo- 
rical literature." 

The Raleigh Post 

Bditorial Column 

October ji, igoi. 

64 



PORTRAIT OF CAPTAIN OTWAY BURNS. 

The portrait of Captain Otway Burns which was 
presented to the State of North Carolina on behalf 
of Mr. Walter Francis Burns by Kemp Plummer 
Battle, LL.D., Alumni Professor of History of the 
University of North Carolina, is the work of Mr. 
F. Mahler, pupil of Mr. W. M. Chase, America's 
great portrait artist. Mr. Mahler is also a suc- 
cessful exhibitor and the recipient of honorable 
mention at the Paris Salon. 

The painting is a life-size head and bust with 

a sailing vessel in the back-ground. It is a copy 

of an authentic oil-painting on wood and represents 

the subject at about forty years of age. Colonel 

John D. Whitford who knew Captain Otway Burns 

in his later years has pronounced it a faithful like- 
ness. 

The picture is protected by a massive gold frame, 
glass, and shadow-box and bears the following in- 
scription : 

65 



"Captain Otway Burns, born 1775, died 1850, 
Commander United States Privateer "Snap-Dra- 
gon", War 1812-15, presented to the State of North 
CaroHna by his grandson, Walter Francis Burns." 

The presentation took place in the Senate Cham- 
ber, at the Capitol in Raleigh, on Wednesday eve- 
ning, October 30th, 1901. 



PROGRAM. 

1. Introductory Remarks, Justice Walter Clark, 

President of the North Carolina Historical 
and Literary Society. 

2. Presentation Address, Kemp Plumnier Battle, 

LL. D., Alumni Professor of History, Uni- 
versity of North Carolina. 

3. Acceptance for the State, Governor Charles 

Brantley Aycock. 



66 



INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY WALTER 

CLARK, CHIEF JUSTICE OF NORTH 

CAROLINA. 

Ladies and Gentlemen : 

North Carolina has always loomed up grander 
in war than in peace. In piping times of peace, we 
are prone to take our ease and let the days drift by, 
but when the long roll beats, and brave men crowd 
to the perilous edge of battle, then her stalwart sons 
gather as to a marriage feast. 

In the war of 1812, as in all others. North Caro- 
lina contributed her full quota of men, but the con- 
test did not come within our reach. The war was 
fought largely on the ocean. On the land it was 
confined largely to the Canada border and, what 
was then our other border, at New Orleans, save the 
brief dash from Washington. This State sent a 
brigade to Norfolk, where they languished and died 
at Craney Island. She sent another brigade under 
General Joseph Graham to the aid of General Jack- 

67 



son in Alabama in the Indian War, but it arrived 
just too late to take part in the battle of Horse-Shoe 
Bend, where he broke the Indian power. This state 
furnished other troops, which also endured hard- 
ships and wasting disease, but were denied oppor- 
tunity for distinction on the battlefield. 

On the sea was our only opportunity. There 
in our small navy, Johnston Blakely, from North 
Carolina, achieved merit and distinction, and, on his 
premature death, the state educated his daughter, 
Edna; and a town was named in his honor, but it 
has long since vanished from the map. 

The most conspicuous figure that North Carolina 
furnished in our second war with Great Britain, take 
him all in all, was Captain Otway Burns. The Con- 
stitution of the United States provided for privateer- 
ing, and, under the broad seal of the federal govern- 
ment, Otway Burns was commissioned captain of a 
privateer, whose career was notable. He patrolled 
our ocean front, and displayed the Union Jack from 
Cape Farewell, the southernmost point of Greenland, 
to Cape San Roque, the easternmost point of Brazil. 
He captured the enemy's vessels under the guns of 
Halifax, and pounced upon them like a hawk upon 
a covey of doves off the mouth of the Orinoco. 

68 



For three years he was a terror to the British 
merchant marine, and inflicted damage only rivalled 
since by the Alabama and by another son of this 
state, the gallant Waddell in the Shenandoah. 

Captain Burns left but one son, who became a 
lieutenant in the United States navy, and who sided 
with the South in the Civil War. The children of 
this son, the only descendants of Captain Otwav 
Burns, are scattered from Australia to Holland, 
none of them residing in North Carolina. 

But wherever they are, the hereditary fervor of 
devotion to the land of their origin still flows in 
their veins. As a great people, now dispersed 
abroad, still turns to Jerusalem as the cradle of 
their nation and their hopes, and as the Roman 
legions, who "marched from east to west beneath 
the eagles from Pontus and Gaul," ever looked to 
the imperial city as their home, so these descendants 
of the brave North Carolina soldier and sailor 
still fondly recall the land of his nativity and the 
honors he won for the state of his birth. 

And North Carolina has not forgotten him. The 
highest town in the Union, east of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, the county seat of one of our fairest counties — 
Burnsville, bears his name. When, last summer, his 

69 



descendants unveiled a monument to his memory 
in the town of Beaufort, the counties of Carteret, 
Jones and Onslow, which had furnished his brave 
sailors, turned out to do honor to the memory of the 
commander who had led them to victory. And to- 
night, when his portrait is to be presented with filial 
piety to the state, a distinguished citizen, formerly 
president of our State University, and who occupies 
the chair of History in that historic institution, is to 
make the presentation, and the Governor of the 
state (who is, himself, unavoidably absent) will re- 
ceive it through a high state official, who has served 
North Carolina in two great wars, and this brilliant 
and cultured audience is here to bear testimony to 
the honor North Carolina pays those who have re- 
flected honor upon her history as a state. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you Dr. 
Kemp P. Battle, of the University of North Caro- 
lina. 



70 



ADDRESS BY KEMP P. BATTLE, LL. D. 

We are met to honor a man whose fortune it was 
at important epochs to do good service to the United 
States and to North CaroHna. It is my duty, at 
the request of his descendants, to show how this 
honor was won, and what chapters in our history 
are illustrated by his career. 

The portrait, which I have the honor in behalf 
of Mr. Walter Francis Burns of New York, to 
present to the state, is that of his grandfather, Otway 
Burns, Captain of a privateer in time of war, and a 
most useful legislator for his state in time of peace. 
It delineates him when in his prime, about forty 
years old. 

The original painting from which this is copied, 
was secured from Mrs. Hall, of Beaufort, an aunt 
of Jane Hall, second wife of Captain Burns, by Mr. 
Washington Bryan, and by him transferred to Mr. 
Walter Francis Burns. The copy is by a pupil of 



71 



the eminent William M. Chase, of New York, F. 
Mahler, who has received honorable mention in the 
Paris Salon. 

Francis Burns, one of that stalwart people, who 
have produced in proportion to numbers more men 
of mark in all pursuits than any others in the world's 
history, the Lowland Scotch, of whom their neigh- 
bors, the Scotch-Irish, are offshoots, emigrated from 
Glasgow in 1734. He was in company with many 
neighbors, who followed their countryman, Gov- 
ernor Gabriel Johnston, to the new lands offered for 
sale on low terms by the Crown, which had recently 
purchased seven-eighths of the title, and all the right 
of government. He chose Onslow for his habitation, 
a choice which profoundly affected the career of his 
grandson, because the county looks out on the waves 
of the great Atlantic. It is so penneated by sounds, 
inlets, and rivers that every Onslow baby is born a 
lover of the sea, as every duck is born web-footed. 
His farm was on Queen's Creek, two miles from 
Swansboro, and therefore very near the county of 
Carteret. His will dated in 1792 shows that he had 
been thrifty. He bequeathed lands, cattle, hogs, and 
fifteen slaves, and gave back to his wife all the prop- 
erty she had before marriage, as agreed in a pre- 

72 



■r.\Ti: o!" XOrvTH-CAROLTNA. 



To all to 



TH-CAROLTNA. Ko. ^ 

zvhom thefe Prefoitsjhi 
f(7mcj Greeting. 



ril 



K 



NOW Vf., T ha' Wc, loi- and in Coiifidcration of 
Fifty J^hiliingj for every Hunch td A^rci heruhy -;, 
into our Treafary bv ^"/■"rn^^ff^ /^u>rtx' > • 

havo Given amb Granted a., 
I Grant-wuo the hid ^/rAint-xx.- ^'/i . 
^V;^ (f-^T^ Tiaa of Lao,!, 



Piefents do Gr 



. A«ru, 
7. 



Iyin| : 



id being in our\C<ii' 






-^w^ 









;>^^- 



<;/ix^T, 



>x§ 



<<i<^ 






^ «' ' p^^ ^ ^n-X. 



i% by the Plat hereant6 annexed tfoth appears fc^«ther -with all WodAs, 
Waters, Mines, Mineral ;, Hereditaments, and Appurtenances, to die 
{aid Land belonging or appertainiwg : To iioW to the f.vid 'i''7a:n'^ 

AlTigns, for ever. Yielding md paying to us fuch Sums of Money 
V- t'k O' othcrvvife, as our General AilL-tnWy torn Timt; ty Time may 
::i;c-.' I'tfoviDED ALWAYS, Tiiatthefaid ^^^'^^'"Ci^ ^^j'^-^n.^ 

n\al! caufe tli^ Grapt to 
?54'f%'!fkr«! hi the ncsiller's Office of our faid County of i^^-'A.v 

within Tvvclve Months from the Uate heicdi, othemife 
the fhme rtval! be vaM aiul of no Effech 

]\ '1 l-STLMOXi wliereof, we have caufed our Great Seal to bp 
^- ;tu.-p :.tfixcd. \\ .TNf .-5 k rC H A RD CA 5 W E L L, Ef^ 
. • ' •,•■ (,\ venigr. Capiain-Gencia!, and Conimaiuln in Chief, al 

}■-'- ■'-.- ,-;;r^.> nay ofi^??^^^ -- , 

■^ i-^ Y^r of our Jndejxndenee^-O^iA ja tlie 



%aro, 

y\7 



Thoufand Scvat Hiutdnd and ifi 



/ .,- 



,so 



^-Cf^>' ^,^4^^^ 



/. 



ORIGINAL GRANT TO FRANCIS BURNS 



nuptial contract. Legacies were made to his grand- 
sons, Otway and Francis, and to children of daugh- 
ters, who had married into the Smith, Spooner and 
Davis families. 

The father of Otway Burns was also named 
Otway. The son was born in 1775. His early life 
was spent on the farm. He soon, however, devel- 
oped sea-faring tastes. On the sharpies and small 
schooners which plied in pursuit of fish or for pleas- 
ure in the neighboring sounds and near the ocean's 
shores, and in the larger vessels carrying merchan- 
dise to and from the Atlantic's ports and the West 
Indies, he learned thoroughly all the duties of sail- 
ors, from those of the Jack Tar before the mast to 
those of the lordly captain in his vigilant solitude on 
the quarter deck. 

He learned more than this. He became a builder 
of ships; not the great cHppers, of course, but of 
such craft as could enter the shallow waters of North 
Carolina. His ship-yard was at Beaufort. 

The merchants of his section, ever on the look- 
out for nautical experience, soon discerned in him 
qualities of leadership. He had a frame of hercu- 
lean strength and of tireless endurance, a mind 
active and acute, a courage which knew not shrink- 

73 



ing, a nerve which grew more steady in the fiercest 
dangers, a temper quick but never unsettling judg- 
ment, a serene self-confidence, which, united to fer- 
tility of resource and skill in seamanship, gained the 
confidence of others, and an iron will which com- 
pelled obedience. He was employed as a commander 
of a coaster, his extreme limits being Newbern on 
the south, and Portland, in Maine, on the north. 

The news of the passage by Congress on the i8th 
of June, 1812, of the declaration of war with the 
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, found 
him sailing to his northernmost harbor. On entering 
it, he was urged to convert his vessel into a privateer 
with him as commander, but deeming her too slow, 
he declined the proposition. He found in New York 
a clipper-built schooner, called the 'Xevere," of 
admirable sailing qualities. By the aid of a joint 
stock company she was purchased, strengthened, 
armed, and in all ways made ready for her new and 
hazardous career. 

Sailors are fond of calling vessels after animals 
noted for qualities of pluck, or swiftness, or some 
dangerous trait, offensive or defensive, and the own- 
ers like to please them. Thus in the regular navy of 
1812 we find a Wasp, Hornet, a Viper, and those 

74 



5^- » >v -, 



«"„1^k1 










5? \^ 



•I 




s- ri5 



I; 



?- 



?C?- 






V' .^^Svg..^,,^^ 







equally dangerous ladies, Vixen and Syren. Among 
privateers there were likewise a Wasp and a Hornet, 
and in addition, a Fox and a wily Reynard, a Hawk, 
an Owl, a Snow-bird, a Sparrow, a Swallow, a Lark, 
a Curlew, a Young Eagle, a Young Wasp, a Lion 
and a Leo, a Reindeer, a Sword-fish, a Fly, and that 
giant mosquito, the Galliniper. In accordance with 
this taste in nomenclature, the name of the Levere 
was changed to that of Snap-Dragon, an animal 
not dangerous in either sting or bite, but having a 
suddenness of motion quite startling The co-part- 
ners of Burns were principally well-known business 
men of Newbern. Among them were William Shep- 
ard, father of the late eminent Raleigh lawyer, John 
H. Bryan, one of whose sons, William Shepard 
Bryan, has been on the Supreme Court bench of 
Maryland ; another, Henry R., is now a judge of the 
Superior Court of our state. Another share-holder 
was Isaac Taylor, of the Western Hospital for the 
Insane. Others were James McKinley, John Har- 
vey and Dr. Edwards Pasteur. 

Burns' experience as the captain of a coaster 
eminently fitted him for the charge of a privateer. 
The troublous days of the Napoleonic wars, when 
neutrals were not strong enough to enforce their 



75 



rights by anns, when, in imitation of the arrogance 
of ships of war of belHgerents, their merchant ves- 
sels often were guilty of acts of insolence and law- 
lessness verging on piracy, and when pirates in 
reality were sometimes met, the commanders of our 
merchant marine were forced to be wise as serpents 
and not harmless as doves. They were quick to 
resist , ready, if needs be, to train their long guns on 
the aggressor, or drive back boarders, with cutlass, 
pike and ax. They went prepared to fight as well as 
to trade. 

As privateering seems to be not in accordance 
with the spirit of the age and as it is often spoken of 
as "legalized piracy," I deem it proper to say a few 
words in vindication of those who in the war of 1812 
engaged in it. 

It is a settled principle of international law that 
private property on land, unless needed for military 
purposes, must not be considered lawful plunder, 
but this humane law has never been applied to 
private property at sea. It is a recognized law that 
the seizure of merchant vessels and goods, and their 
appropriation or destruction, is an appropriate means 
of reaching the enemy and making him ready for 
peace. 

76 



It is one of the duties of public war vessels to 
make these captures, and nations having great navies 
may be satisfied to use no other force. But when 
a nation strong on the sea fights another which is 
weak in public ships, the latter may be driven in 
self-defence to hire her citizens to make captures in 
her behalf. These captures are made under written 
governmental authority. 

The trend of civilization is, however, evidently 
against privateering. Franklin in 1785 procured a 
treaty between the United States and Prussia by 
which each agreed not to employ privateers against 
one another; a provision, not, however, renewed in 
a subsequent treaty. It was not in use by either 
party in our conflict with Mexico, nor by either 
nation in the Crimean War, nor by either party in 
the recent Spanish War. In 1877, after making 
a treaty ending the Crimean War, Great Britain, 
France, Russia, Austria, Sardinia, Prussia, and Tur- 
key agreed to abolish privateering, and invited other 
nations to concur. The United States, Spain and 
Mexico are the only powers which refused. The 
United States replied that it was their policy to keep 
only a small navy, and in case of war to rely on in- 
creasing their power by the use of privateers. If, 

77 



however, an additional rule should be adopted, plac- 
ing private property on the seas on the same footing 
as that on land, they would gladly accede. This 
suggestion was not adopted. When the Confederate 
War broke out, alarmed by the danger to their com- 
merce, by privateers expected to be licensed by the 
Confederacy, the United States offered to adopt the 
rule, but as the offer was evidently intended for 
present use against the Confederate States, the great 
powers, having already conceded to the latter bellig- 
erent rights, did not accept the offer. The Confed- 
erate States, in view of their extreme weakness on 
the ocean, offered letters of marque to foreigners, 
as well as to their own citizens, but owing to the 
difficulty of bringing captures into port, and to the 
illegality of disposing of them in neutral ports, the 
project failed. The government was driven to build- 
ing or buying their own cruisers, the Alabama, 
Florida, Shenandoah, and others, which not only 
crippled, but well-nigh destroyed the merchantmen 
of the Union. 

This statement shows clearly that although in 
modern times privateering is less resorted to than 
formerly, yet it is entirely in accordance with inter- 
national law. Our wise statesmen of 1787 conferred 

78 



upon Congress, as auxiliary to the war power, the 
right to issue letters of marque and reprisal, and 
prohibited it to the individual states. It was not 
until 1 812 that this sleeping power was aroused into 
action. It had, however, been freely used by the 
Continental congress and the Confederation. 

After submitting for years to degrading insults 
and oppression, on the part of the warring European 
powers, led by England and France, the peace-lov- 
ing, tax-hating, debt-abhorring, standing-army- 
dreading, navy-despising statesmen who held the 
reins of power, declared war gainst Great Britain, 
believing her more blamable than France. Although 
the war had for years seemed possible if not proba- 
ble, neither respectable armies nor the material for 
making them had been provided. Our antagonist, 
of men-of-war had nominally ten hundred and sixty 
sail, of which nearly eight hundred were in good 
fighting order. We had a grand total of twenty sail, 
of which only seventeen were ready to fight. Great 
Britain had many great ships of the line, 74's and 
even larger. Our greatest vessels were three 44-gun 
frigates, the Constitution, the President, and the 
United States, while nine were from 18 to 12-pound- 
ers. With this enormous disparity in naval force 



79 



our government naturally, as Queen Elizabeth did 
against the Spanish Armada, made use of the ships 
of her citizens. Bonds were required that they 
would act according to the rules of international law. 
Captures and their cargoes, where necessity did not 
require burning or ransoming, were to be brought 
before a district court for adjudication. The usual 
import duties were to be paid out of the proceeds. 
A percentage was to be reserved for pensioning the 
disabled in service, and the widows and children of 
the killed. The residue was to be distributed accord- 
ing to proportions prescribed by law ; namely, unless 
there was a special agreement otherwise, one-half 
to the owners of the ship and armament, the other 
among the officers and crew in like manner as in 
case of public armed vessels. In truth, the priva- 
teers were as much government forces and doing 
government work, as were the independent com- 
mands of Marion, Sumpter, and Cleveland, in the 
Revolutionary War, or those of Ashby and Forrest, 
in the early stages of that of our own ; or in the 
Franc-tireurs, in that between France and Germany. 
The captures by such ships were no more robbery 
than the captures by ships of war. The Snap- 
Dragon was no more piratical than the Bon-Homme 
Richard, or the Constitution, the Alabama, or the 

80 



Shenandoah; Otway Burns no more a pirate than 
Paul Jones, or Hull, Bainbridge, or Blakely, 
Semmes, or Waddell. 

The Federalist opponents of the War of 1812 
vented their fury in abusive epithets against those 
of the war party. Once a compam' of idlers was 
assembled at the wharf at Newbern, where the Snap- 
Dragon was lying. An ardent anti-war man, an im- 
pulsive citizen of French extraction, a compiler of 
our laws and author of a history of our state, after- 
wards a Supreme Court judge in Louisiana, Francis 
Xavier Martin, used against her officers and crew 
the epithet fashionable among Federalists, ''licensed 
robbers." Captain Burns heard the words, leaped 
into his boat, was rowed rapidly to the wharf and, 
catching the word-slinger by the seat of his breeches 
and collar of the coat, flung him into the Neuse. 
This cooling process persuaded him, I will not say 
to eat his words, but, in the refrain of an old rollick- 
ing song, to ''drink them down." 

The doughty Captain was also prompt to resent 
what he considered an infringement of his rights, 
and his methods were not always such as are laid 
down in books of legal procedure. While enlisting 
recruits at Newbern, he became satisfied that a sys- 

81 



tematic effort was being made to thwart him by 
arresting his recruits for petty debts. He gave 
orders that no process should be served on his men 
and, when a boat-load of constables rowed along- 
side his ship, he promptly ordered it to be upset, and 
the officers of the law made their way to land like 
half -drowned rats. 

When the government called for privateers, our 
sailors, being prevented by British blockaders and 
cruisers from plying their regular calling on the 
seas, responded with true American alacrity. Balti- 
more sent 58 vessels ; New York 55 ; Boston, 32 ; 
Philadelphia, 14; Portsmouth, N. H., 11; Charles- 
ton, S. C, 10. Others sent smaller numbers, 
the total being 253. North Carolina furnished four, 
the Lovely Lass, of Wilmington, the Hawk, of 
Washington ; the Hero, of Newbern, and the Snap- 
Dragon. 

Some of the privateers were of considerable 
size and strength, and refused to run away from a 
war vessel near their size. The Chasseur, of Balti- 
more, with 16 guns, attacked and succeeded in cap- 
turing the St. Lawrence, a public war schooner of 
her own class. Captain Champlin, of the General 
Armstrong, gallantly engaged a British frigate of 24 

82 



guns, and, after a desperate action, escaped. In this 
action he lost six killed and sixteen wounded, and 
had masts, sails, rigging, and hull badly cut up. 
Captain Reid, in the same General Armstrong, in the 
neutral harbor of Fayal, made one of the most 
gallant defenses of his vessel known to history. 
The Non-Such, of Baltimore, Captain Levely, a 
i2-gun schooner, fought three hours and twenty 
minutes a i6-gun ship and a 6-gun schooner, and 
made her escape. The brig privateer, the True- 
blooded Yankee, the Saratoga, and the General Arm- 
strong, each carried i8 guns and i6o men. Others 
had i6 guns or less. These were intended for com- 
bats with armed merchantmen and enemy privateers, 
if perchance they should be met. Others expecting 
to encounter weaker adversaries had fewer guns and 
men. One captain actually sailed with a single gun, 
but it was very large and he had a crew of 50. 

The aim of the privateers, if they attacked an 
armed vessel, was to do all the execution possible 
with their guns, and then dash in and board the 
adversary, their superior numbers thus generally 
gaining the victory. This maneuvre was generally 
dangerous in a storm, as the smaller craft dashing 
against the larger might be wrecked, but in favorable 

83 



weather victory was well-nigh sure. Merchantmen 
carrying as many as 14 guns had only 25 sailors, 
others 30, while the privateers could throw on them 
80 to i(X) men who had no duties in navigating the 
ship, but were trained to fight. This accounts for 
remarkable captures, for example the taking of a 
merchantman so large that the victorious captain 
hauled his craft on the deck of his prize and thus 
sailed into Portland. 

As a rule the British merchant vessel sailing alone 
was almost sure of being captured, and it was usual 
therefore to make up fleets, under the protection of 
one line-of-battle ship and two or three frigates. 
The privateers met this by hovering near and attack- 
ing stragglers, trusting to their speed to escape the 
armed escort. They were like wolves prowling 
around a flock of sheep, endeavoring to evade the 
vigilance of the shepherd dog. If perchance a storm 
scattered the fleet, a golden harvest was reaped. 
The Snap-Dragon, being fast and strong, quickly 
obedient to her helm, and commanded by an ex- 
tremely skillful captain, was very successful in weath- 
ering storm and picking up stray vessels. 

The law required that a description of privateer 
vessels and lists of crews should be filed before 

84 



each voyage. We have only one of these in rela- 
tion to the Snap-Dragon, that of July, 1813. In 
that she is said to be of 147 tons burthen, her crew 
78, her armament 5 carriage guns, 50 muskets 
and 4 blunderbusses. The First Lieutenant was 
James Brown. On subsequent voyages her force 
was strengthened ; when off the coast of Nova 
Scotia she had one long gun on a pivot, probably 
an i8-pounder, and six others. 

On one voyage she had 187 men, and her last 
under Burns, in 1814, 99. A 147 ton merchant- 
man would not require more than 6 men to handle 
her, which shows clearly the excess of numbers on 
a privateer needed to board the enemy and furnish 
Qrews for prizes taken. The officers in the lists pre- 
served for the cruise beginning January 20, 18 14, 
were besides Burns, Captain ; Benjamin DeCokely, 
First Lieutenant; James Guthrie, Second Lieuten- 
ant ; Thomas Barker, Captain of Marines and Joseph 
Meires (probably Myers), Surgeon. Fourteen of 
the whole number were classed as marines. 

Some of the papers connected with the cruises of 
the Snap-Dragon, have been lost, but we have 
authentic copies of the logs or journals, kept by 
Burns in 1813-14. The substance of one is pre- 

8s 



served in the North Carolina University Magazine, 
of October and November, 1855, in a sketch pre- 
pared by the late John H. Bryan, Jr. ; the second was 
found by myself printed in the Raleigh Register, 
September 24, 1814. The third was procured from 
the collector of the port of Newbern by Colonel 
John D. Whitford and printed in the Newbern Jour- 
nal January 5 — /February 23, 1896. This last cruise 
was from January 20, to April 19, 18 14. 

These journals portray in the terse, direct style 
usual in such documents the important incidents of 
the voyages. I will abbreviate some of them, trans- 
lating the nautical language into the vernacular, as 
I presume most of you are, like myself, *'land- 
lubbers". Some I will give without alteration. It 
is unfortunate that the publication in the University 
Magazine does not give the dates of the cruise 
therein commemorated. From internal evidence it 
appears to be the fiirst. It was among the West 
Indies. 

To show the method of Captain Burns in manag- 
ing his crew, I give the following: While on his 
first cruise he called at Providence, a beautiful 
island of the West Indies. Mindful of the health 
of his men, he allowed them, one-third at a time, 

86 



to go on shore. The last party, in which were 
several Irishmen, found a dram shop, with the usual 
results. While in the midst of the carnival, the 
Captain sent an officer to order them to return at 
once, but prompted by the sergeant of marines, a 
reckless son of Erin, named Plane, they refused 
obedience and threatened to throw the messenger 
down the hill. As soon as this was reported to 
Burns, he seized a cutlass, and ordered the boatmen 
to put him ashore. In his maudlin recklessness. 
Plane met him, saying : Well, Captain, when ashore 
I am as good a man as you are." Without a word 
Burns cut him down, with a wound not mortal, and 
then attacked the rest of the party single-handed, 
cutting and slashing until blood ran in streams. 
They were overawed by his terrific manner, and 
submitted to be driven to their duty. This conduct 
may sound harsh to a landsman, but Jack Tar must 
render swift and unquestioning obedience as a habit, 
or else in storms and battles crew and craft may be 
lost. I am not describing a kindergarten teacher 
nor the chairman of a Peace Society, but a fighting 
captain of a fighting cruiser. 

Another incident on the same cruise will further 
illustrate his discipline. The Snap-Dragon had just 
captured a merchantman of 14 guns. A seaman, 



named Thompson, with a tongue as tireless as the 
restless waves of the sea, had been from the be- 
ginning of the voyage, gasconading about his prow- 
ess and exploits. On this occasion his words were 
really offensive, tending to create disaffection among 
the crew towards the officers. The captain roundly 
chided him, observing that he was always loudest in 
peace and stillest in danger. Thompson replied tliat 
the captain, being the commander, could safely use 
such abusive language. Burns said he was willing 
to waive his rank, but thought it essential to disci- 
pline to administer a flogging, which he proceeded 
to do with his own hand. It subsequently became 
necessary to put the flogee ashore. He left with 
threats of vengeance upon the flogger. It is strange 
that the first person he met after landing in the 
United States was his old enemy, but instead of 
carying out his threat he begged that the past be for- 
gotten. 

This incident illustrates the strong difference 
between the discipline of a man-of-war and that of 
a privateer. Such a scene could not have occurred 
in the regular service, where by custom and rule 
the commander has but little personal communi- 
cation with the crew. The captain of a privateer, 
with recruits recently enlisted, with the terror of 

88 



government authority much more remote, his men 
serving primarily for gain and little for patriotism, 
must exact obedience by strength of character, tact, 
utter fearlessness and indisputable superiority and 
seamanship. 

In order that you may form some idea of the 
graphic and vigorous style of Captain Burns' log, 
I give in its words an encounter with a large and 
powerful merchantman. The date is March, 1814. 
It shows the daring nature of the man, that he at- 
tacked a vessel with three times as many guns 
as he had. Victory was prevented only by an 
accident as will be seen. 

"Thursday, 3rd, commenced a pleasant light rain 
about ten P. M. At five A. M. made a strange 
sail to leeward ; at six gave chase ; about seven 
gave her a gun and hoisted American colors ; she 
answered us with another and hoisted English col- 
ors. At half-past seven we engaged her and a 
regular and constant fire was kept up by both par- 
ties ; the enemy perceiving that we designed board- 
ing, manoeuvred his ship with great skill for 
considerable time. At half-past eleven got our mus- 
quetry to bear upon him — orders were given to 
hoist the red flag; (the red flag was the signal for 

89 



boarding.) At twenty minutes past noon we got 
on the enemy's quarter. They perceiving that we 
meant boarding gave us several stern guns, which 
injured our sails and rigging very much. We kept 
up constant fire of great and small arms; at half- 
past one we received orders to board. He put his 
helm hard up to run us down ; his fore chains took 
our jib-boom and bow-sprit; he endeavored to haul 
down his colors and got them as low as the gaff. 
At that instant our bow-sprit gave way and fore- 
mast went by the board. The schooner then fell off 
as quick as two vessels could fall. The enemy 
then rallied his men and let off the men that had 
boarded him, hoisted his colors and made the most 
of a good wind. All hands on board of us were 
called to clear the wreck, our shrouds, sails and 
top-mast being shot away. Our colors were shot 
away, and immediately tied in the main rigging. 
The pumps were sounded and we found she made 
no water; we then engaged by a jury-mast and at 
length set our jib, and at four made sail on the 
vessel. Our sails, rigging and hull is much dam- 
aged, and our boat completely ruined. The enemy's 
force is not known. She is a large ship, coppered 
to her bends, mounts 22 guns, and fought desper- 
ately, using round, grape, canister and cold shot. 

90 



They beat off our boarders with pistols, cutlasses, 
boarding-pikes, and the above cold shot were 
thrown. When some were swarming on board they 
threw stink-pots, bricks, and glass bottles. We do 
not know her loss, but suppose she lost considerable, 
as blood run out of her lee-scuppers and her hull 
received damage from chain and star shot. We 
lost 4 killed, 7 wounded * * * . This ends an 
action that forces us to run for some port to 
repair, owing to losing our mast ; had it stood she 
was our prize. We were so near Surinam, we 
heard guns from the battery." 

This story brings out clearly the usual tactics 
of the privateers in capturing a much larger mer- 
chantman, armed with many more guns. At a 
distance the long guns are used ; as they approached, 
the carronades and the musketry. Then, as soon 
as possible, boarders leaped on the enemy's deck. 
Resistance, however desperate, was usually over- 
come by superior numbers of picked men, trained 
for hand-to-hand conflicts. In this fight the Eng- 
lish captain was evidently a very able and fierce 
antagonist. As a last resort he adopted the dan- 
gerous expedient of endeavoring to ram the Amer- 
ican, and, although Burns by prompt action pre- 

91 



vented entire success, he carried away the support 
of the Snap-Dragon's fore-mast and caused its fall. 
He then sailed away and escaped. It was a beautiful 
contest between two uncommonly skillful seamen, 
the Englishmen evidently having a larger crew 
than was usual with merchantmen. One of the 
Snap-Dragon's crew, Nat Owens, stated that in one 
of his fights at close quarters. Burns charged his 
gun with sail-needles when grape ran low, and 
this was probably the occasion. 

Burns was a capital sailor. In a tropical gale 
of tremendous force, the Snap-Dragon was saved 
entirely by his resourcefulness. The first blow of 
the wind lost her jib-boom and started her cut- 
water. After being on deck all night he took a 
rest, leaving his lieutenant in charge. The wind 
shifted and a huge wave knocked the ship on her 
beam-ends, breaking the guns from their fasten- 
ings and opening a seam in her side thirty feet 
long. Burns rushed on deck, secured the guns, 
promptly turned her head and held it on the tack. 
This raised the leak above the water and by vig- 
orous pumping the danger was passed. 

The log tells of a narrow escape from capture 
effected by the benius of Burns. Four large ships 
were descried. His keen eye satisfied him that 



92 



one was a war vessel disguised by taking down her 
fore and mizzen top-gallant masts and pinning old 
black patches on the sails. There was such mur- 
muring at his caution that Burns concluded that it 
was best to run some risk in order to satisfy his 
crew. Bearing down on the stranger he sent sev- 
eral shots into her but no answer was made until 
the Snap-Dragon began to retreat. Suddenly the 
batteries were unmasked and grape and cannister 
whistled through her sails. The peaceful-looking 
merchantman was transformed into a povverful and 
swift man-of-war. Then ensued a trial of skill be- 
tween the two, both manoeuvering with ability, while 
the breeze increased almost to a storm. Some on the 
Snap-Dragon, seeing the Englishmen's size and 
speed, began to pack up their clothing, so as to 
be ready for a voyage to England. But the pluck 
of Burns and the faith in his craft never faltered. 
He seized the helm and suddenly tacking, sailed 
by his adversary only three hundred yards off. Of 
course he received a broad-side, but just as the shot 
left the guns a great wave hid the privateer, so 
that she really seemed to dive like a duck out of 
danger. Her sails were only slightly cut up. The 
Englishman attempted to tack in pursuit but his 
ship failed to turn promptly and, by a series of 



93 



short tacks, which his larger enemy could not irri- 
tate, the Snap-Dragon rapidly increased her distance. 
Such was the force of the wind and she was so 
hidden by the mountainous waves, that the captain 
of the man-of-war reported that she had sunk. 

Captain Burns' pluck and seamanship was dis- 
played to great advantage in rescuing his vessel 
from five British vessels of war at the port of St. 
Thomas on the island of the same name, then in 
possession of Great Britain. Stationing himself at 
night near the harbor in order to cut out some 
vessels at anchor therein, he was surprised when 
the darkness lifted at finding himself lying between 
five English men-of-war, three to windward and two 
to leeward. One of them, the Garland frigate, was 
in gun-shot distance, and fired a 32-pound shot, 
which, fortunately, missed. Forty miles distant 
there was a huge rock, called the Sail Rock, it 
being feasible to pass on either side. Burns, headed 
his swift cruiser directly for the rock so that the 
enemy could not divine on which side he would 
pass. Making his men lie down, he took the helm 
himself, and at the critical moment chose the safer 
side. The nearest brig, the Sophia, gave him a 
broad-side of grape and round shot, and then 
anodier, without effect, and the Snap-Dragon sailed 

94 



down the Wind until out of danger. The captain had 
the pohteness, or perhaps you will call it the im- 
pudence, before going out of sight, to tack his 
ship, display the American colors, and fire a fare- 
well gun. There were few men in our navy who 
could have escaped such an ordeal unharmed. 

Burns did not hesitate to attack a lo-gun brig- 
of-war. The Nettler of that force, when he was 
cruising near Tortola, one of the Virgin Islands, 
bore down upon him. The Snap-Dragon was 
headed to meet her, but the Nettler declined the 
combat and took refuge under the walls of the fort. 
Burns, when night came on, ran by the fort and 
endeavored to seize one of the merchantmen. In 
the darkness his boat encountered the Nettler, and, 
being unable to fight both brig and fort, by aid of 
his sweeps he left the harbor. 

At one time, when ofif the coast of a Spanish 
island, some English prisoners on the Snap-Dragon 
begged to be put on shore. Burns, who was always 
kind to his prisoners, consented with reluctance, 
because the island was remote from the tracks of 
commerce, and his men might be detained on sus- 
picion of piracy. His fears were well founded. 
His boatmen were thrown into prison, and vexatious 
delays interposed against their release. He deter- 

95 



mined on the strong hand. He weighed anchor and 
sailed off. Soon a small war boat, called a felucca, 
with about a lOO men on board, came out of the 
harbor. The Snap-Dragon suddenly returned and 
captured her. Two gibbets were rigged and the 
commander was notified that, if the Americans were 
not released in two hours, all would be hanged, 
beginning with the captain. In one hour the Snap- 
Dragon's men were on board, and the voyage was 
continued. 

Another incident well illustrates the little weight 
the United States then had among nations. While 
sailing to Cartagena for supplies, Burns disting- 
uished an English vessel on the high seas convoyed 
by two Spanish, one a brig of 12, the other a 
schooner of 8 guns. Without any warrant of inter- 
national law, they claimed in a blustering manner 
that the Englishman was exempt from capture. He 
disregarded their threats, seized her, put on her a 
prize crew of 20 men, and, ordering them to await 
his return, proceeded to Cartagena. While absent, 
a number of Spanish gunboats attacked and cap- 
tured the prize after a short resistance and carried 
her into harbor. The crew were thrown into prison 
in irons for firing on the Spaniards. After three 

96 



weeks' detention, by free use of bribes, their release 
was secured. The loss to the stockholders of the 
Snap-Dragon was estimated at $20,000. It is not 
conceivable that a United States privateer would 
be treated in this arbitrary manner in these days 
of fleet smashing off Manila and Santiago. 

While at Cartagena, one of the crew attempted 
to desert, and, being caught, claimed to be a Span- 
iard. A brig-of-war anchored near her, and her 
captain came on board the Dragon and claimed the 
sailor. High words followed between him and 
Burns, when in a spirit of gasconade, he drew his 
sword. Burns seized a boarding-pike and was with 
difficulty prevented from staving it through his 
adversary, who promptly abandoned his claim. 
Shortly afterward, in exercising the right of search 
of a Spanish brig, and while the boarding officer 
was in the cabin examining papers, some of the 
sailors who had been imprisoned at Cartagena, pro- 
ceeded to hang a Spaniard or two by way of 
retaliation. The rope was around the neck of one 
of the dons, and the body was about to swing, 
when the officer came up from below and stopped 
the execution. Truly, Jack Tar is a reckless fellow 
in times of war. 



97 



The next incident is supplied by Mr. Thomas 
C. Davis, of Morehead City, to whom I am indebted 
for much valuable information. Captain Burns and 
Captain Almida, of the privateer Kemp, differed 
about the division of a valuable prize. The dispute 
waxed so hot that Burns challenged Almida to a 
"yard-arm-duel." In this mode of satisfying honor, 
the antagonists station themselves on a yard-arm 
of their respective vessels, Then the vessels are 
sailed near and around one another, while tlie duel- 
ists from their airy seats fire away each at the other 
with musket, rifle, or pistol, while the sailors below 
eagerly watch the sport. He, who is hit, may drop 
at once on deck or into the ocean. While they 
were on their way to the place agreed upon, they 
chanced to see in the distance several sails. The 
hostile encounter was changed into a chase of the 
enemy, and the capture of one apiece so mollified 
their anger that the duel was adjourned sine die by 
unanim.ous consent. 

From the journal of the cruise from June 3rd 
to August i6th, 1813. over the Banks of New- 
foundland, we find a sarcastic allusion to an opinion 
of the Chief Justice of the United States. ''June 
8, spoke American ship Active, from Wilmington 
to Cadiz, cargo, flour — had the impudence to show 

98 



us his British Hcense ; suirered him to proceed ; so 
much for the decision of Judge Marshall.*' To the 
downright mind of Burns accepting the license from 
the enemy made the acceptor equally an enemy. 

The following shows quick work, though not 
profitable : "June 24, at 4 P. M. captured the barque 
Henrietta, Captain Mason, of Liverpool — at a quar- 
ter past four captured the brig Jane, of Maryport, 
Captain Arkbridge — at five captured brig, Pandora, 
of Havre de Grace, Captain Murphey, all in ballast." 

"June 25, at 7 A. M. manned and ordered for 
the United States the two former and gave up the 
latter to the owners, after having paroled the pris- 
oners and put them on board her." 

The next statement of the journal shows the 
cunning of the Englishman, and how the fox. 
Burns, was not caught in the trap. 

"June 27, at meridian saw a strange sail to 
the south of us, and stood for her. At 2 P. M. 
the chase gave us a gun and hoisted English colors, 
distant three miles. We returned it and hoisted 
American colors. She then crowded all sail and 
we gave chase until night concealed her from us. 
Saw her again at daylight and chased her again 
until 5 A. M. when the fog, which, how^ever, was 

99 



light, cleared away and discovered a convoy of 
25 or 30 sail to windward, protected by several 
frigates and 74's, two of which stood for the chase, 
as soon as they heard her signal guns. As soon as 
the chase, which we ascertained to be a brig, show- 
ing 14 guns, came up with one of them, she was fired 
upon, and immediately ran toward us, and the firing 
continued at intervals until 4 P. M. We, however, 
suspected a decoy, and kept at a respectful distance." 

After some days of anxious sailing in and out of 
the "darkness visible" of the fogs, was made the 
most valuable capture of the voyage. I quote from 
the log: "At 4 P. M., a thick fog prevailing, a 
brig hove in sight in half-musquet shot, standing 
across our quarter. We hailed immediately. She 
answered she was the brig Ann, Captain Martin, 
from Liverpool for St. John, New Brunswick, car- 
go, bale goods, steel, card wire, and crockery; put 
a prize master and crew on board and took her in 
tow. Thick fog prevailing for several days." 

"July 15th and i6th employed in taking goods 
out of the prize and putting them aboard the Snap- 
Dragon." 

On August 1 6th, Beaufort Vv^as reached after a 
cruise of 76 days. The captures were of inconsid- 

100 



erable value, except that of the last mentioned brig, 
the Ann, which, with her cargo, was estimated at 
nearly half a million dollars. After being duly 
libelled in the District Court of the United States, 
Judge Henry Potter presiding, they were sold for 
cash at auction by Edward Pasteur and William 
Shepard, agents, at Newbern, beginning October 
nth, 1813. The hearts of the belles and beaux of 
North Carolina must have leaped for joy at reading 
the advertisement. I copy the list of articles speci- 
fied in order that you may see what kind of goods 
our grandfathers and our great-grandfathers and 
their wives and daughters wore and used. "Super- 
fine and coarse cloth of all colors and sizes ; Cassi- 
meres, ditto ; Grey, Brown and Olive coatings ; Red 
and White Flannels; Rose and Striped Blankets, 
Plams, Duffels, Kerseys, Bombazeens, Bombazets 
of all colors ; Satinetts and Rattinets of all colors ; 
Swansdown, Striped and Figured ; Prince's, Bruns- 
wick, and Benner's Cord; Flushings of all colors; 
Carpeting, Cambric, and Cambric Muslin, Cotton 
Shirting, Prints, Calicoes, Shawls, Checked and 
Fancy Molesdown, Plain and Silk Striped Toil- 
enets, Bedford, Patent and Windsor Cords; Vel- 
veteens; Elastic Stockinett; Webb Braces; Cotton 
and Silk Laces; Men's and Women's Cotton and 



lOI 



Vv^orstecl Hose ; Dimities, Love Handkerchiefs, Bea- 
ver Gloves, Fancy Vestiilets, Sewing Silks, Boot 
Cord, Thread, London and Whitechapel Needles, 
60 casks Card Wire invoiced at 2200 pounds ster- 
ling, 25 tons of Steel and Sheet Iron, and finally, the 
contents of 58 packages as yet unknown." The 
Ann and her furniture were sold at the same tim.e. 

Articles of the same name as most of these 
are Vv^ith us yet about our persons and homes. 
Some are new to me. I have heard of Satinetts, 
but what are Ratinetts? I am not acquainted with 
Molesdowns. Perhaps they all got lost on the 
''Underground Railway." 'Xove Handkerchiefs" 
became obsolete before I had need of them, away 
back in the fifties. If a toilenet ever crossed my 
path, I did not recognize whether it was male or 
female. I can only guess that a "Vestulet" is a 
more becoming appellation for a modern raiment 
with a name, which to an old-fashioned ear has a 
flavor of immodesty, ''Shirt-Waist. " The list is 
comforting as showing that the fabrics which adorn 
the persons of the ladies of 1901 are not much more 
numerous and perhaps not more costly than the 
fabrics which aided our grandmothers in causing 
the hearts of our grandfathers to thump under 
their capacious waistcoats. 

102 



We have no means of knowing the number and 
the value of the captures made by the Snap-Dragon 
under Captain Burns. Mr. T. C. Davis, who has 
paid the matter more attention than anyone else, 
states that in the first seven months of the war, he 
took two barks, five brigs, and three schooners, 
with valuable cargoes, estimated at one million 
dollars. With the vessels were taken 250 prisoners 
for which the government paid a bounty of $10 each. 
The brig Ann and her cargo, already mentioned, 
were rated at nearly half a million dollars. Cer- 
tainly, at the call of the government our worthy 
Captain played no unimportant part in carrying 
out its policy by crippling the commerce of its 
enem}'. 

The aggregate loss inflicted by all vessels carry- 
ing letters of marque was enormous. Captain George 
Coggleshall, himself the captain of one of these 
vessels, in his "History of the American Priva- 
teers," states the loss to Great Britain as 2000 ships 
and vessels of all kinds, not counting captures on 
the Great Lakes. Of these 2000, about 1300 sail 
were captures of privateers. Of our own vessels 
taken by the British, he estimates that the number 
was not over 5CXD, which appears reasonable when 
it is remembered that we declared an embargo 

103 



seventy-five days before the war began and that a 
large portion of our merchantmen returned to their 
ports within four months afterwards and were laid 
up out of reach of the enemy. After six months 
the blockading vessels rendered regular commerce 
imf>ossible. 

The privateers penetrated every part of the 
several oceans, where it was likely that a British 
merchantman could be found. They cruised and 
made prizes in the English Channel, in the Irish 
Channel, in the Bay of Biscay, and along the 
Spanish coast, in the waters around Hindostan and 
Australia, among the West Indies, along the coast 
of South America and Africa and beyond the Arctic 
Circle. They not only inflicted immense losses on the 
enemy, but to them, as well as to the commanders 
of our war frigates, is due the increased respect 
felt by all the nations of the world for the intelli- 
gence and skill, the daring and energy of American 
seamen. They aided in securing the grand result 
that the United States was thenceforth to be recog- 
nized and treated as equal to any of her older 
brothers in the family of nations. 

Wheeler is wrong in stating in his "Remini- 
scences" that Captain Burns was captured with the 



104 



Snap-Dragon. His constant exposure to drenching 
storms and icy blasts told even on his iron frame, 
and during her last cruise, excruciating rheumatism 
kept him anchored at port. In this last cruise the 
commander was Lieutenant DeCokely. On the 29th 
of June, 1 8 14, she was carried into Halifax as the 
prize of the British man-of-war, the Leopard. She 
had sailed from Ocracoke on the 28th of the pre- 
ceding month. The lieutenant was experienced and 
capable but he doubtless lacked the nautical genius 
of Burns. Perhaps the Snap-Dragon resembled the 
woe-begone Lady of Orange, who married a bad 
husband. She accounted for her bad fate by saying 
''that she was snared into it." 

We will now briefly trace the career of Captain 
Burns in times of peace. 

About the close of the war. Captain Burns mar- 
ried Miss Jane Hall, of Beaufort, and lived there 
in a handsome residence for twenty-two years. 
He renewed his old calling of ship-building, using 
the staunch old live oak timbers from Shackel- 
ford's and Bogue's banks. About 1820, be built 
for a Wilmington company the first steamer which 
ever plied between Wilmington and Smithvill^, 
now Smithport. The captain was Thomas N. 

10; 



Gautier and the engineer John Snyder. The sig- 
nals were given by a trumpet, and it is handed 
down that when more speed was desired, the cap- 
tain shouted down : "Give it to her, Snyder." This 
expression was admitted into the language of cant 
and has hardly died out at this day. 

Shortly afterwards, Burns built the brig War- 
rior and afterwards the brig Henry, both being in 
the coast-wise and the West India trade. He also 
constructed a small two-masted sail-boat, the swif- 
test of the Sounds, and named her in honor of his 
beloved old fighting-vessel, the Snap-Dragon. He 
put in her a center-board, the first ever heard of 
in that section. He, however, did not confine him- 
self to private business, but found time to represent 
his county in the General Assembly, which then 
held annual sessions. He was a member of the 
House of Commons, in 1821, 1822, 1824, 1825, 
1826, 1827, and of the Senate in 1828, 1829, 1830; 
of the House of Commons again in 1832 ; and of 
the Senate again in 1833 and 1834, in all twelve 
terms after twelve elections. This statement shows 
that he had in a marked degree the esteem of the 
people. When the Republican party divided into 
Jacksonites, afterwards Democrats, and National 

106 



Republicans, afterwards Whigs, he followed the 
leader most like himself in character, Andrc'.v Jack- 
son. 

My yoimg friend, Ivey F. Lewis, has examined, 
at my request, the Journals of the Houses of which 
Otway Burns was a member and noted his votes 
on the questions of the day. In tracing his course, 
I find that no North Carolina statesman took more 
independent and enlightened positions than he. 
His public career was at a time when the great 
Eastern and Western controversy was being agi- 
tated. A short statement of the causes of the con- 
troversy is necessary to understand the singular 
merit of the political conduct of Captain Burns. 

Under our colonial government the counties of 
old Albemarle had five members each and those 
from Bath two members only in the General Assem- 
bly. In order to secure harmony, John Harvey and 
other patriots induced the former to agree that the 
State Conventions or Congresses should have five 
delegates from each county. When in the darkest 
hour of the Revolution, the Constitution of 1776 
was formed^ the public danger swallowing up all 
minor questions, the people of Albemarle surren- 
dered the representation they had enjoyed for one 

107 



hundred years, and consented to equality with the 
others, that is, one senator and two Commoners 
from each county and a commoner each from six 
boroughs. 

Of course this arrangement was to the advan- 
tage of the small counties of the east, but for some 
time the only serious effect on legislation was the 
taxation of land by the acre, a $20 eastern acre, rich 
in corn, paying the same as a ten cents middle or 
western acre, rich in jagged stones. This inequal- 
ity produced little discontent because the rate was 
only six cents on $100 worth. 

The General Assembly thus constituted had al- 
most unlimited power. It could tax some articles 
and not others and that without limit. There was 
no restraint whatever on its pledging the credit of 
the state. It elected the governor and other execu- 
tive officers for one year only and controlled their 
salaries. While the judges were chosen during 
good behavior, their salaries were subject to the will 
of the legislature. It is much to the credit of our 
people that there was no wild action by this power- 
ful body, that the only complaint was as to their 
strict economy. 

As all the smaller counties were in the eastern 
half of the state, eastern land-holders controlled the 

108 



General Asembly by a two-third's vote. This con- 
trol they determined to retain. Whenever the 
necessities of the west required a new county, its 
creation was either refused, or delayed or accom- 
panied by the creation of a new western county. 

In 1776, the Senate stood 2'j eastern to 8 western 
members ; counting the borough members, the House 
stood 58 to 20. In 1777, were created three east- 
ern and two western counties ; in 1779, five eastern 
and five western counties ; and so on. Between 
1776 and 1835 there were 17 new western and 16 
new eastern counties. The Vv^est had one advantage 
and that was obtained largely by the independence 
and love of fair play of the sturdy old privateer, 
Otway Burns. In 1827, the vote for Macon County 
stood 6}^ to 61, and he was one of the 63. In 1822, 
his vote was cast for the county of Davidson. In 
1827, he favored the establishment of Yancey Coun- 
ty, the vote being tied, 62 to 62. The speaker voted 
Aye, but the measure was lost in the Senate. In 
1833, in the Senate, Yancey was created by 33 to 
28, and so grateful were the people of the new 
county to Bums, that they named their county-seat 
Burnsville in his honor. He likewise favored the 
erection of Cherokee, in 1828, (63 to 61) eleven 

109 



years before it was admitted into the family of 
counties. 

Matters in the General Assembly went on for 
some years after the Revolution in an easy, som- 
nolent, way. The war of 1812 aroused the mem- 
bers to the extent of taking land according to the 
value, instead of by the acre. But the time was 
approaching when Governor DeWitt Clinton, with 
many great men of the state of New York, tra- 
velled in a canal-boat eastward from Buffalo, and, 
being towed through New York harbor, amid deaf- 
ening shouts from the throats of men and screams 
from the whistles of engines and bellowings from 
the mouths of cannon, poured water from Lake 
Erie into the Atlantic. Thus was the marriage of 
the lakes and the ocean solemnized. 

The spirit of canal building spread with the 
intensity and rapidity of a prairie fire. In North 
Carolina there were wild dreams of navigating our 
streams nearly to their sources. Raleigh was to 
receive the vessels of Pamlico Sound up Neuse 
River, up Walnut Creek, up Rocky Branch to the 
crossing of the Fayetteville Road. Boats were to 
ascend Cape Fear and Deep Rivers to the Randolph 
Hills. The produce of the Yadkin valley from the 



no 



foot of Blowing Rock was to cross to Deep River 
and be exported from Wilmington. The puffing 
of steamboats was to be heard on the head-waters 
of the Catawba and the Broad. In vain Carney 
Cotton, a Commoner from Chatham, told the House 
that after dry weather a terrapin could carry a sack 
of flour on his back from the hills of Guildford to 
the landing at Fayetteville, right through the middle 
beds of the rivers, while not a drop of water would 
dampen the flour. Such prudential counsels were 
unheeded. When the salary of the governor was 
only $1500, our staid ancestors imported from Scot- 
land a civil engineer, Fulton, at a salary of $6000 
in gold to begin the good work, and the western 
members clamored for appropriations in money or 
in bonds by the state to save the tribulations of 
four-horse wagons rumbling over jagged rocks or 
splashing through mucilaginous mud. They had 
gold-tinted visions of Asheville, Morgantown, Ra- 
leigh, Wilkesboro, Asheboro, Louisburg, Ruther- 
fordton, glistening with the white wings of com- 
merce. 

A few years afterwards, when the canal fever 
had been cured in part, at least, it was replaced by 
by the railroad fever. At last, distance was to be 
partially annihilated and the different sections made 



III 



near neighbors. The western counties became 
clamorous for the state to open her treasury and 
to provide these swift and easy highways. The 
eastern counties having navigable rivers through 
their borders, or of convenient access, sat heavily 
on the treasury box and answered every appeal with 
emphatic Noes. 

This difference of interests fired the minds of 
the western people with indignation against the 
inequality of representation in the General Assem- 
bly. They began to assert with wrathful intensity 
that the state government was under the control 
of an oligarchy of landed wealth. They pro- 
claimed with eloquence the injustice of Green 
with 432, Camden with 394, Carteret with 364, 
Chowan with 329, Jones with 261, Currituck with 
138 votes, having the same weight in the Senate 
and in the House as Buncombe with 1344, Burke 
with 1360, Rowan with 1594, Surrey with 1755, 
Wilkes with 1765, and Lincoln with 1929 votes; 
four freemen from one locality not having as much 
weight in the government as one in another. 

An active agitation ensued for calling a Con- 
vention to redress the evil. It goes in history under 
the name of the eastern and western controversy. 

112 



It was of such bitterness that even so prudent a 
man as Governor Swayne, a citizen of Buncombe, 
warned the east that there was danger of the west 
rising in its might and pulHng the pillars of state 
down with a ruinous crash. After long discussion 
the Convention of 1833 was called and the evil 
partially remedied. The measure was passed by 
a few bold and independent eastern members, who 
were convinced of its justice, and were willing 
to sacrifice their local popularity for what they con- 
sidered to be right in itself and for the best inter- 
ests of the whole state. Prominent among these, 
am.ong whom was the great Judge William Gaston, 
was the fearless and independent sea-captain, Otway 
Burns. Their action led directly to the restoration 
of harmony and eventually to the development of 
our state by building the iron highways from north 
to south, from east to west, throughout the borders. 
By this patriotic course. Burns sacrificed his 
popularity. His legislative career ended with 
the senate of 1834. And when the amended con- 
stitution was passed on by the people the county 
of Carteret repudiated his action by 322 to 32, over 
ten to one. Other eastern counties were even more 
rabid. The constitution in Hyde obtained only 
two votes, in Tyrrell only one, in Bladen six, and 



"3 



in Brunswick the negative was unanimous. But 
in the west the approval was shown by such major- 
ities as in Lincoln 1887 to 42, Rowan 1570 to 24, 
Buncombe 1322 to 22, Wilkes 1757 to 8, Surrey 
1754 to 4, Burke 1359 to i, and Yancey with its 
county-seat of Burnsville, rolled up a vote of 564 
to nothing. 

Captain Burns showed that he was superior to 
the prejudices of his section in other ways. He 
favored all measures looking to internal improve- 
ments, such as clearing out of Cape Fear below 
Wilmington and making navigable the Cape Fear 
and Deep Rivers, draining Mattanuskeet Lake, aid- 
ing the construction of a turn-pike road from Fay- 
ettesville to Wilkesboro, granting charters for rail- 
roads, and draining the swamp lands. He opposed 
all propositions to cripple the work projected for 
improving our rivers. He favored measures de- 
signed to favor our agriculture and manufactures. 
He aided in carrying against strong opposition the 
bill making appropriations for rebuilding the 
Capitol in place of that destroyed by fire in 1831. 
He opposed efforts to cripple the Supreme Court, 
which, having been recently established, had not 
then the strength in popular estimation wliich it 



114 



afterwards acquired. And those who had made 
an ineffectual effort to give debtors a homestead, 
a beneficent provision forty years later placed in the 
constitution. 

He displayed conspicuous courage in other direc- 
tions. He refused to court popularity by favoring 
the election of Sheriffs and Clerks of the Court by 
the people. When the notorious Bob Potter started 
a crusade against the Banks of the state, which 
were then the subject of much popular odium, he 
declined to join in the persecution. And, finally, 
he could not be drawn into the rapidly growing 
prejudice against free negroes. He voted against 
the prohibiting those of other states from settling 
in North Carolina. And he favored a bill allowing 
slaves to be emancipated by their owners. On the 
whole, in legislative bodies in which sat such men 
as Bartlett Yancey, Montfort Stokes, John Owen, 
James Iredell the younger, William Gaston, John 
M. Morehead, John L. Bailey, David F. Caldwell, 
Charles Fisher, and others like them, as a broad- 
minded, fearless, intelligent member, the old priva- 
teer and ship-builder, Otway Burns, was the equal 
of any. By doing his full duty in arduous posi- 
tions in war and peace, and by his services to the 

im 



United States and to North Carolina he has earned 
a right to a place in the Portrait Gallery of the 
state. 

In the course of my investigations into the career 
of Otway Burns, I must admit that harsh words 
have been said of him, usually in connection with 
his privateering ventures. I have come to the con- 
clusion that this traditional opinion is unjust; that 
it is founded on two misconceptions, both engend- 
ered and propagated by hot party spirit. The Fed- 
eralists who disapproved the war, visited all acts of 
the administration, including the sending forth pri- 
vateers, with hot displeasure and calumnious epi- 
thets. Then again, when in opposition to nine-tenths 
of his constituents, he sided with the west, and gave 
votes which they deemed fatally injurious to their 
interests they poured forth the vials of their wrath 
upon him. Time has shown that he was right, and 
I believe that in his political course he was actuated 
by honest motives. I remember distinctly that my 
fathei", the late Judge William H. Battle, who was 
a commoner from Franklin in 1833 and 1834, when 
Burns was Senator, spoke of him in high terms, 
especially praising his independence and freedom 
from demagoguery, coupled, candor compels me 

116 



to say, with the disposition to answer supposed 
insults with the strong argument of ^ponderous 
fists. 

After his legislative career was over, Captain 
Burns, his fortune having been impaired by the 
financial crisis of those days, received from Presi- 
dent Jackson the appointment of Keeper of the 
Brant Island Shoals Light Boat. This was not 
far from the village of Portsmouth, then a port 
of entry, with a population of about looo. He re- 
moved his residence to that place and there the 
old seaman lived a tranquil life until his death on 
October 25th, 1850. He was buried in the beauti- 
ful cemetery of Beaufort under his favorite live 
oaks. Recently a cannon, said to have been on the 
Snap-Dragon, was placed over his grave, with ap- 
propriate ceremonies. Judge Walter Clark deliv- 
ering an able and scholarly address. 

Captain Otway Burns was thrice married; first 
to Miss Grant daughter of Reuben Grant, of On- 
slow, executor of his grandfather's will; second to 
Miss Jane Hall of Beaufort, in 1814; and third, in 
1842, to Miss Jane Smith of Smyrna, in Carteret 
County. His only child was by his first wife, born 
in 18 10, a captain in the United States Navy, who 



117 



after service on the Atlantic, Mediterranean and 
Pacific, resigned in 1840 and died in 1869, Cap- 
tain Owen Burns. 

Captain Owen Burns married Miss Martha 
Armstrong, daughter of Solomon, and grand- 
daughter of Gen. John Armstrong. The only liv- 
ing descendants of Owen Burns are his seven sons, 
a daughter and ten grandchildren. 

1. I. R. Burns, who resides in New York City 
and Daytona, Florida. He has an only daughter 
Bessie Burns Hulse. 

2. X. Eugene Burns, a fruit grower in Santa 
Clara Co., San Francisco, California, who has an 
only daugher Eugenia Stewart Burns. 

3. Richard Burns, who resides in Chicago, has 
an only son Grindall Jerome Burns. 

4. Charles O. Burns, President C. O. Burns Co., 
New York City. 

5. Walter Francis Burns, of In wood. New York 
City, Vice Pres. and General Mgr. of the W. F. 
Burns Co., has two sons Walter Francis Burns, Jr., 
and Otway Burns. 

6. Edwin Oscar Burns, San Francisco, Cal., 
who has a daughter Martha Burns and a son Owen 
Burns. 

118 




WAl.TKR 1- RAN CIS BURNS 



7- Owen Burns of the W. F. Burns Co., who 
resides in Chicago. 

The only daughter Lillian lives at Inwood, New 
York City and is married to John Anthony Wilkens, 
of Rotterdam, Holland. They have an only child 
a charming young lady of four, Theodora VVal- 
tona Wilkens. 

Divers great-grandchildren of the old privateer 
bid fair to insure that his blood will continue red 
and lively as long as our Ship of State shall be 
manned by men of active brains, brave hearts and 
strong hands. 

In conclusion, I do not claim that my hero was 
a shining light in the church or appropriated to 
himself all the cardinal virtues. But he had strong 
virtues. He was brave and honest, faithful to his 
trust, and kind of heart. He was largely generous 
both in his prosperity and in his adversity. His 
long service in both branches of the legislature 
shows that he had the confidence of his neighbors, 
not alone of the poor, but, as only land-owners 
voted for the Senators, of the rich as well. And we 
can now see that this straight-forward sense of 
justice aided in settling dangerous questions and 
advanced the prosperity of the state. At the call 

"9 



of the government he did his full duty in arduous 
and dangerous service on the sea. Let us then hold 
in honor the bold warrior and v^^ise legislator, 
Otway Burns. 



120 



LOG OF THE CRUISES OF CAPTAIN 

OTWAY BURNS AND THE 

SNAP-DRAGON. 

Chapter I. 

DURING the year 1812, Otway Burns com- 
manded a merchantman, which sailed from 
the port of Newbern, N. C, to Portland, 
Maine. Whilst on his voyage and before he reached 
Portland, war was declared between Great Britain 
and the United States. Commercial intercourse 
being at an end Captain Burns determined to render 
all the assistance in his power to his country, and 
to second in a private capacity the gallant and glori- 
ous struggles of our infant navy. 

At this time several privateers were fitting out 
at Portland to cruise against the enemy. A com- 
pany of persons proposed to Burns to purchase his 
vessel and convert her into a privateer, upon con- 
dition thaf he would take command. He was not 
averse to the employment but thought his vessel too 

121 



slow a sailor to suit the service. He therefore 
declined the proposition and soon after sailed for 
New York. Whilst there he fell in with a schooner 
very well suited as he thought for a privateer. 
Upon inquiry he ascertained that her name was 
'Xevere," that she was for sale at $8,000. After 
consultation with a gentleman who was part owner 
of the vessel he commanded, they sold their vessel 
and bought the other. They fitted her up as a 
privateer and changed her name to the Snap- 
Dragon, and sailed for Newbern. Here she was 
sold out in shares and books were opened to ship 
men for a cruise. At this time most of the influ- 
ential men in Newbern were opposed to the 
war, and endeavored to counteract Burns' efforts. 
Among other expedients adopted to prevent his 
obtaining a crew, they tempted those who had 
already shipped to contract debts, and then would 
issue civil process for their arrest. Burns being 
very much provoked, gave orders that no legal 
officer should be allowed to board the Snap-Dragon 
without his permission. On one occasion six con- 
stables undertook to board without obtaining leave. 
The officer qji duty ordered them to keep off. 
They disregarded his command and came along- 

122 



side. The officer then ordered his sailors to upset 
their boat, which was accordingly done and the 
poor constables were compelled to get upon the 
bottom of their boat to keep from drowning, where 
they remained until they drifted ashore. That 
frolick, says the Log Book, "finally broke tlie con- 
stables." 

Another incident which happened at this time, 
illustrates the opposition entertained by many citi- 
zens to the war of 1812, as well as the bold and 
daring character of Burns. Whilst the Snap- 
Dragon was moored on the Neuse in front of the 
town, a considerable crowd assembled on the nearest 
wharf. In the crowd was Francis Xavier Martin, 
then a resident of Newbern, since a Judge in Loui- 
siana, who hailed the Snap-Dragon and called her 
a "licensed robber." Burns was on board, heard 
the epithet and ordered his boat to be manned. He 
soon stood upon the wharf in the midst of the 
crowd. He seized Martin, dragged him to the 
water's edge and threw him into the river, when 
the ardor of his patriotism soon cooled to civility. 
Whilst in the water he begged Burns to pardon 
him. Upon being released he and his associates 
dispersed in confusion. 

123 



Finding that he could not complete a crew in 
Newbern, Burns sailed for Norfolk. The priva- 
teer Revenge, was also at that port for the same 
purpose. In a few days both were ready for sea, 
and it was agreed by their respective commanders to 
cruise together. They weighed anchor and passing 
through Hampton Roads sailed down the Cliesa- 
peake. 



124 



Chapter II. 

Shortly after the vessels were clear of the Capes 
a sail was descried on the weather bow, and a 
signal was made from the Revenge for a chase. 
The Snap-Dragon was immediately under a press 
of canvas and in two hours was several miles to 
the windward of her companion. It was soon ascer- 
tained that the chase was an armed vessel and all 
hands were called to quarters. Whilst in port, 
some of the crew of Snap-Dragon in the language 
of her commander represented themselves to be the 
bravest fellows in the world, and if they might be 
believed, could make each a meal of an English- 
man. Captain Burns having never seen a hostile 
shot fired, was by no means disposed to brag until 
he had an opportunity to make a trial of his nerves. 
Now, when the moment of trial seemed to be at 
hand, some of those men who had been very brave 
in port, turned pale and asked Burns if it was not 
best to wait for the Revenge to come up. He made 

125 



no reply, but stood on his course. When in gun 
shot distance, the chase fired a shot to leeward and 
hoisted American colors, proving to be a Baltimore 
privateer. 

The Snap-Dragon still continued in company 
with the Revenge, and in a few days made two 
sail to windward. Again the signal was given for 
chase. The Snap-Dragon was soon alongside the 
stranger and fired a gun, whereupon they hove to. 
Captain Burns sent a boat aboard to examine their 
papers, and ascertained that both were Spanish 
vessels and being neutrals were of course permitted 
to pass unmolested. It was upon this occasion, as 
before, with these very brave fellows among the 
crew: their fears magnified each vessel into a man- 
of-war, and it was whispered among them that the 
"fool of a boy (Burns) w^ould send them all to 
prison or the devil, by imprudently running along- 
side a strange vessel before he knew what she was." 

The two privateers had now been in company 
for some eight or ten days, but Captain Burns hav- 
ing by this time ascertained that his companion 
was a slow sailor, concluded to separate. He ac- 
cordingly did so. The very next day, cruising 
alone, he fell in with two British men-of-war, a 



120 



frigate and a sloop. The day was fine and they 
gave chase to the Snap-Dragon: it was fruitless 
however for the Snap-Dragon had the heels of both 
and using them, she soon, in the language of Cap- 
tain Burns, bade them adieu. The chase though 
short was interesting. It was the first time that 
the speed had been decidedly tested, and the result 
confirmed Captain Burns' judgment and raised the 
spirits of the crew. The two best qualities of a 
privateer are speed and spirit, and both are equally 
important. The speed of the Snap-Dragon was 
already ascertained : of the spirit the sequel will 
more properly speak. 

Having escaped an unequal encounter with 
the British vessels, Captain Burns resumed his 
course, and in a few days encountered a British 
ship of 14 guns. It was late in the evening when 
the sail was made, and soon after night-fall the 
Snap-Dragon was alongside. Burns fired one gun 
and the enemy surrendered, being the first prize. 

For some days after this adventure the weather 
was very fine and the Snap-Dragon moved pleas- 
antly and sleepily over the waters. The pause of 
adventure allows mention of a little incident, which 
illustrates what has ever been remarked, the inti- 
mate union of the braggadocio and the coward. 

127 



One Thompson, holding in the Snap-Dragon some 
subordinate post, had already thrust himself fre- 
quently upon the notice of the Captain as the 
noisiest of the crew, vaunting constantly, in the 
absence of danger, of his daring, and when it was 
presented complaining of the imprudence of Burns 
in encountering it. After the capture of the British 
vessel mentioned above, Thompson, as usual, was 
gasconading in the hearing of the officers who were 
assembled on the quarter deck, and in language 
which savored of mutiny. He was interrupted by 
Burns who told him he wearied of his bragging, 
that he observed he was always loudest in peace, 
and stillest in peril. Thompson of course went 
into a net, and said that Captain Burns felt safe 
in using such language being his superior officer, 
but would not dare to do so if ashore and on 
equality. Captain Burns told him that he waived 
all distinction of grades, and called upon the other 
officers to witness that he held himself in this 
particular on an equal footing with him. and fur- 
ther he told Mr Thompson that under the circum- 
stances he considered it important for the discipline 
of the vessel to administer to him with his own 
hands "a genteel flogging," and that he was at 
liberty to defend himself. Thompson submitted 

128 



and Burns chastised him with the end of a rope. 

If you should incHne to consider the conduct 
of Burns rather harsh in this instance, 3^ou will 
please consider the nature of the service — demand- 
ing the strictest subordination and the most in- 
trepid spirit. What followed will at least show 
that Thompson deserves none of his sympathy. If 
so happened that during that cruise Thompson was 
put ashore at St. Matthews on the Spanish main, 
declaring that if he ever met Burns, he would kill 
him. He did not return to the United States until 
after peace was restored, and by a singular co- 
incidence the first man he met upon land was 
Burns himself. He did not pursue his purpose of 
revenge, but on the contrary begged Captain Burns 
not to mention what had passed. In relating the 
adventure now, Captain Burns acts upon the prin- 
ciple that the moral is worth more than the man. 

In a few days the Snap-Dragon made the island 
of St Thomas, which was in posession of Great 
Britain, and at night a boat was despatched to 
reconnoitre the harbor, which reported that several 
vessels, ready for sea, had dropped out. It was too 
late after the return of the boat to cut them out 
that night so the Snap-Dragon hauled off to the 
windward of Buck Island, intending to cruise near 

129 



the harbor the next day. With this view she was 
disguised, but at daylight the first objects descried 
by Captain Burns were five British men-of-war, 
three dead to windward, and two leeward. The 
"Garland" frigate was in gunshot distance ; and in 
fact such were the relative positions of all towards 
one privateer, that they could not have been im- 
proved if they had been chosen with a view of 
capture, instead of being as they were, purely acci- 
dental. Captain Burns first tried to deceive the 
enemy by hoisting colors, but John Bull was wide 
awake. The Garland fired a 32-pound shot at the 
Snap-Dragon, which came near striking the hull, 
and immediately set skysails and made a signal 
to the other men-of-war to join in the chase. The 
condition of the privateer was perilous, and soon 
her top hamper was up, and every sail set to the 
best advantage. The only possibility of escape, 
was through Sail-Rock passage, which was some 
forty miles distant, dead to windward, and to 
make the point, three of the enemy hovering upon 
her direct course, was of extreme difficulty. Indeed 
escape was hopeless, unless the enemy could be 
deceived by some manoeuvre. With that sort 
of decision which distinguishes the man of genius, 
and that presence of mind which, marks tlie man of 

130 



courage, Captain Burns adopted perhaps the only ex- 
pedient which could have succeeded. It was this : 
To put the Snap-Dragon directly towards the Rock, 
which gives name to the passage, so that the enemy 
could not anticipate on which side she designed to 
pass. The chase immediately opened in goovd earn- 
est, and our little privateer, pursued by five British 
men-of-war, may not inaptly be compared to a fox 
chased by a pack of hounds in full view. Captain 
Burns so shaped his course as to get all the Gar- 
land's sails to draw on one mast, which gave his 
vessel a great advantage in sailing. Nevertheless, 
the frigate kept for more than two hours in gun- 
shot, during which the shot continued to fall around 
the Dragon, and although without effect, still so near 
as to throw the spray upon the officers. When they 
approached the rock, the Garland made signals to 
her companions to cut off the Dragon when she 
hauled up to choose the passage. Two brigs accord- 
ingly got into the passage with the object of inter- 
cepting her. Now came the rub ; Captain Burns 
made all of the men lie down and took the helm him- 
self. The brig Sophia was nearest the privateer, and 
when she came abreast discharged at her a broadside 
of grape and round shot. The fire was harmless, and 
such was the hurry of the brig to repeat lier fire, 



131 



that in doing it her forward bulwark was shot 
away. The crisis was now over. In a few minutes 
the Dragon had all five of the enemy on the wind, 
and was quite out of gun-shot, ''walking upon the 
waters like a thing of intellect." As soon as he was 
well to windward Captain Burns tacked ship, hauled 
up his foresail, displayed his colors, and fired a gun 
by way of defiance and farewell. Night at length 
interrupted the pursuit. 

At daylight the next morning a sail was made on 
the lee quarter, which proved to be his Majesty's 
ship Dominick. She gave chase to the Snap-Dragon 
and ran her down to the passage, and then aban- 
doned the pursuit. During the chase the wind blew 
so fresh as to carry away the jibboom and two top- 
mast stays of the Snap-Dragon. 

After this Captain Burns beat up to windward 
and cruised about the island of St. Croix, where he 
made several small captures. 

Intelligence of Captain Burns' movements 
reached the island of St. Thomas, where his Maj- 
esty's brig. The Nettler, of ten guns, was in harbor. 
One morning found the Snap-Dragon about forty 
miles from Tortola under easy sail, when she made 
a sail to windward, running down upon her, which 

1^2 



proved to be the Nettler. Her force was known to 
Captain Burns, and when some of his officers pro- 
posed to run from her, he, aware that he had more 
men, and there being httle disparity in size, and 
withal being (in his own language) tired of run- 
ning, scouted the idea, and prepared for action. The 
Nettler came rapidly down under a full press of 
canvas. "All hands to quarters" was the order of 
Bums. When the Nettler came within about two 
miles, she changed her purpose of attack and, taking 
in her light sails, hauled dead by the wind. The 
Snap-Dragon immediately started in pursuit, and 
chased her into the harbor of Tortola, the race con- 
tinuing from 6 A. M. to 6 :30 P. M., at which time 
the Snap-Dragon was within half gunshot of her. 
The Nettler passed under the guns of the fort at 
dusk and anchored. Such is the position of the fort 
that a vessel may pass by it and go out another way. 
Captain Burns hoisted English colors and passed the 
fort. It soon became very calm and dark. The 
Snap-Dragon lay abreast of the town about a half 
mile distant. Some of the officers being well 
acquainted with the harbor and town, the boats were 
manned in order to take some of the vessels there 
anchored if possible. The boats pulled in to a point 
only a hundred yards distant, which was covered as 

133 



they thought upon a near inspection by a flock of 
sheep, but which turned out to be a battery, the guns 
of which were painted white. Passing the battery 
undiscovered they approached a vessel at anchor. 
Quietly they pulled alongside, and visions of prize 
money were already passing through the imagina- 
tion of the crew, when a hail followed by a volley of 
musketry informed them they had gotten hold of the 
wrong customer. It proved to be the Nettler. Her 
crew were evidently prepared for their reception. 
The town was in arms, and sky-rockets were travers- 
ing the heavens in every direction. Under these 
circumstances it was considered advisable to retreat. 
A light was hoisted on board the Snap-Dragon to 
guide them in retracing their steps. The light dis- 
covered her position to the battery, which opened 
upon her immediately. Burns, extinguishing his 
light, returned the fire with his long gun, which 
enabled the boats to find him. He then ceased firing, 
ran out his sweeps, and in a few minutes was out of 
danger. But Burns thought it would never do to 
take so much trouble for nothing, and he came to 
the conclusion if he could not get a prize he would 
at least get some fresh provisions. He therefore 
ordered a boat to be manned and went ashore to a 
plantation. Filled with sheep, poultry and vegeta- 
bles she returned to the privateer, and by daylight 
the island was twenty miles distant. 

134 



CHAPTER III. 

We left our gallant navigator at the epoch of his 
escape from the harbor of Tortola, twenty miles at 
5ea rejoicing in his might. That day we fell in with 
and captured an English vessel bound to Santa Cruz ; 
she had on board between forty and fifty Guinea 
negroes and some other articles of merchandise. We 
took out of her seventeen or eighteen of the blackest, 
who were very anxious to go with us, and released 
her to pursue her voyage. 

Some days afterwards while cruising off Santa 
Cruz, we sent in a boat and cut out a schooner; 
her crew had already left and she was loaded only 
with mill timber and was not considered worth man- 
ning, so she was burnt. The Snap-Dragon then 
went into a small harbor on the south side of Porto 
Rico, named Ponce. This was a neutral point or 
port belonging to the Spaniards. We were very 
kindly treated, for the Governor gave us permission 
to fill water and get what stores we might want. 

135 



We sold dry goods and some otlier articles to pay 
for what we got ; bought a very fine long nine of the 
Governor and in four or five days were ready to go 
on our cruise again. 

We shaped our course with an English packet ; 
we exchanged some shot with her, but were forced 
to give up the chase on account of the rough sea. 
Here we encountered a tremendous gale, which 
lacked but little of proving fatal to the Snap-Dragon. 
We were to the windward of the Gulf of Mexico 
when it came down on us; she lost her jibboom and 
started her cutwater; we lay to under sail; Burns 
never left the deck the whole night, for she wanted 
watching by such a man as he was, and there was 
no man on earth that could manage her like him. 
At four o'clock he called one of his best officers, and 
giving him charge of the deck, went below to refresh 
himself a little. In a few minutes the wind had 
shifted two or three points and brought the Snap- 
Dragon in the trough of the sea ; still the officer of 
the deck did not see her danger, till a tremendous 
wave knocked her on beam ends, filled the w^aist with 
water and set some of the guns adrift. Burns was 
on deck in an instant and proved himself equal to 
the crisis ; the guns were secured and as soon as pos- 

136 



sible the vessel wore round and got on the other 
tack; the pumps were sounded and three feet of 
water found in the hold; they were immediately 
manned, but it took two hours of hard work to pump 
her out. When the daylight came it was found that 
the plank sheer had started more than thirteen feet, 
so that you could put in your finger. As luck would 
have it, the gale now moderated, and our good bark 
was saved. I am as certain as that I have a soul to 
be saved that if it had not been for Burns, the Snap- 
Dragon and all her brave crew must have gone to the 
bottom ; for if she had not been gotten on the other 
tack she would have sunk in fifteen minutes; all 
the leak was under water and wearing her was the 
only way to bring it above the waves. 

Now we bore away to Maracaibo to repair dam- 
ages; but we put into a small harbor where were 
only a few fishermen. We had on board two very 
good carpenters and plenty of tools and everything 
that was wanted. From where we lay to the Gover- 
nor's house was three or four miles and the com- 
mander had to go there to get permission to repair. 
The carpenters set to work with a will and all hands 
helped, so in three or four days we were all right 
and tight again. Meantime the Governor paid us 



^37 



a visit and was treated as well as the nature of our 
circumstances would permit. We were invited in 
turn to dine with him. 

Having learned from the fishermen that some 
seven or eight sail of English vessels were up the 
gulf, trading with the Spaniards, we got under way 
and stood out after them. There was a fine breeze 
at eleven A. M. We fell in with five of them alto- 
gether; they soon separated like a covey when a 
hawk darts in among them, but we succeeded in cap- 
turing three, one ran on shore and the other escaped. 
The prizes were principally loaded with dressed 
skins and dry goods; we took on board the greater 
part of the cargoes ; gave two of the barks to their 
original owners ; manned the other and ordered her 
to the United States. 

Some days after this we fell in with four sail of 
large ships, all in company ; the Snap-Dragon was to 
windward and bore down on them till our command- 
er was satisfied one of them was a man-of-war ; he 
was in disguise, had his fore and mizzen top gallant 
mast struck, and a good many old black patches on 
his top sails. All the others kept well under his lee ; 
there was a spanking breeze and we just hauled off 
from him, dead by the wind. Now some of those 

138 



cowardly officers began to grumble, and said they 
were all merchantmen ; you will always find such 
fellows, plenty of them, anywhere, ready to get in 
a scrap and never know how to get out. After a 
little Burns got angry and told them he had as many 
friends in British prison as they had and was just 
as wiUing as they were to pay them a visit like, and 
he now would show them he Vv^as not deceived in the 
stranger, so he ordered her helm hard aweather, 
and hauled in our weather braces ; now says he, "I 
hope I see some of your bravery," but soon you 
might see some of their fierce countenances change. 
The chase kept on their course, as near the wind as 
they would lie, the Snap-Dragon ran down till every- 
body was thinking the ship would not fight. Our 
shot had struck him several times, but he never 
replied ; all he wanted was to get us close alongside 
and then make a sure business of it ; but Burns or- 
dered his vessel hard by the wind ; just then the man- 
of war seemed to think it was his only chance and 
he did show his teeth and let us know he could bark 
and bite, pretty savage. He gave us a broad side of 
grape shot and canister, but it did not hurt us and 
only cut some holes in our sails ; he then put up his 
top mast, set a press of sail, and we soon perceived 

139 



that he was a first-rate sailer. The Snap-Dragon 
had just such a breeze as we wanted, and we eat the 
ship right out of the wind, but before she reached 
on us, both were heading into the land, and as the 
wind increased we had to furl top gallant sails, single 
reef topsails and take the bonnet out of the fore sail. 
It was pretty tight times, the wind blowing big guns, 
the sea breaking over us, and a dangerous looking 
stranger walking right in our wake ; he had by this 
forereached on us four or five miles, but we were to 
windward. When we got pretty near to land he 
tacked ship and a squall came off which favored 
him, so he headed to windward of our bow ; the wind 
still increasing we were forced to furl top sail. Now 
came the rub which was to weather, the Snap- 
Dragon or the ship. Burns had sent all of his men 
below except just enough to work the vessel ; some 
of the officers wished to keep the Snap-Dragon away 
from the wind, but he paid no attention to anything 
they said; he knew his business too well for that, 
for the ship would have been alongside in a jiffy. 
Men and officers were all packing up their baggage 
to go aboard the stranger, for we made certain we 
were all ticketed for a free passage to England. As 
good luck would have it, just at the scratch as the 

140 



two vessels were meeting, the wind favored the little 
Snap-Dragon, and she weathered the ship three hun- 
dred yards off. Just as the ship got abreast us, he 
up ports and gave us another broadside of grape and 
canister. Burns had the helm himself, the men all 
lying low, and as the ship fired it apperared the 
Snap-Dragon dived like a duck, so that nearly all 
the shot flew over us ; only four or five struck our 
sails. 

"Now boys," says our commander, when he saw 
that none of our spars were gone, "now we are safe." 
We were so near the ship you could tell the officers 
from the men, and almost hear the commands they 
gave. Before he could get another at us we flew by 
him; we were heading on one tack and he on a 
different one, so he attempted to tack and missed 
stays ; at the same time the Snap-Dragon split flying 
jib, and carried away two back stays, but we repaired 
them without loss. Burns was determined to make 
short tacks, dead to windward; he knew the Snap- 
Dragon would not miss stays, and he found in such 
a gale the ship would catch him on long tacks ; 
again he ordered her in stays, and round she spun 
beautifully, hard as it was blowing, and she buried 
in the waves. The ship had now just got on the 

14T 



right tack, but we shot by him again a Httle further 
than before ; he paid us his compHments at parting, 
but it was impossible to hit our hull, for that .was 
almost under water. Towards night it moderated 
a little and we put on more sail ; at sunset the Snap- 
Dragon was more than two miles dead to windward ; 
dark came on and that was the last we ever saw of 
our troublesome customer. Nothing saved us that 
day but the exertions of Captain Burns alone and his 
skill in sailing manceuvres. 

A few days after we captured an English vessel 
from Curacoa, which gave us the information that 
the ship with which we had such a tight race was 
the Fawn, sloop of war, one of the fastest in H. B. 
M.'s service. She had gone into Curacoa and re- 
ported that she had sunk a Yankee privateer. I sup- 
pose he did think so, after taking three full broad- 
sides at us ; but people make mistakes sometimes on 
sea as well as land and some of his English friends 
found it so too, not long afterwards. 

For some time after this we cruised off Santa 
Martha; we had some English prisoners on board 
who were very anxious to be set ashore there ; so 
one morning the Snap-Dragon stood in about off tlie 
port. The commander told the prisoners that lie was 

142 



willing to oblige them, but the Spaniards were a sus- 
picious set of people, and that they and his crew 
might be taken for pirates. But after some time, a 
boat was manned and the prisoners and one of the 
officers went on shore ; the Snap lay just out of gun 
shot from the fort. It began to get late in the after- 
noon and no boat appeared; our commander grew 
more and more uneasy, and more certain something 
wrong was the matter. He did not intend to go in 
the Snap-Dragon, but finally concluded to send 
another boat and a copy of his commission ; as soon 
as she arrived she too was taken and hauled up 
alongside of the other one ; the officer and his men 
were marched off to prison where they found their 
comrades. The reason why they had detained the 
boats and their crews was, they said, that they 
thought we were all pirates, and they would not 
give them up until the Snap-Dragon came in and 
showed her proper commission. After a great deal 
of palavering they agreed to let the last boat come 
off with only the officer on board ; it was now nearly 
eight o'clock at night. To go off and leave our men 
in prison looked very hard ; and if the Snap-Dragon 
went in we did not know but they might take her and 
all the rest of us. It was finally resolved never to 
leave the coast until we "fot our men or had satisfac- 



H3 



tion. The moon shone as bright as day, and they 
could see us very plainly from the fort ; so we stood 
off as if we had finally gone, and next morning we 
were so far to leeward they could not see us. A 
little after sunrise there came out one of their 
feluccas, bound down to Porto Cabello, carrying 
one hundred men and some guns to fortify the 
place. As soon as she got well out from the fort the 
Snap-Dragon made sail in chase ; we soon over- 
hauled her, fired a gun and made her heave to; 
ordered her captain on board the Snap-Dragon and 
told him if he did not go ashore and bring off our 
men and boat, we would hang every man of them. 
We rigged two gallows at yards arms and allovv'ed 
him two hours to do as we bid ; his boat was soon 
manned, and in less than the time we gave him our 
men and boat were on board. There never was a 
set of men worse frightened than these Spaniards, 
and if that plan had not been adopted we never 
should have seen our men again. 

We now began to get down to Carthagena for a 
supply; so we bore away and next morning fell in 
with three sail. We bore down on them, fired a 
gun and displayed our colors ; they proved to be a 
Spanish brig of 12 guns, a schooner of 8, both guard 

144 



coasters, and an English vessel. They all showed 
their colors, and the brig fired a shot just ahead 
of ns ; in a moment we beat to quarters, bore 
down on her and demanded of the captain what 
he meant; he replied that the English vessel was 
under his convoy and he should protect her ; Burns 
asked what right he had to protect her, as the 
United States and his government were at peace, 
and the Snap-Dragon was commissioned to take 
all English vessels she fell in with three leagues 
from land, and this one was not even in sight of the 
coast. They had some high words, but the Snap- 
Dragon took possession of the Englishman, put a 
prize master and twenty men on board, and ordered 
her to keep company. Next morning we took out 
of her a considerable amount of goods, and ordered 
the master to keep off the port and not to come 
within three leagues until we came out. The com- 
mander left so many men in the prize for fear some 
of them might desert if they got a chance. We went 
into Carthagena and immediately got permission to 
fill with water. Everything was going on well until 
that cowardly rascal of a Spaniard, the captain of 
the brig, Vv-ent into a little port to the windward of 
Carthagena and reported that we had fired into him 

145 



and captured the English vessel; all unknown to 
Burns. Immediately there were three gun boats 
sent out in search of the prize ; they found her where 
we left her, and before they got in close gun shot, 
Spaniard like, began to fire on her ; the prize master 
was a brave fellow and silenced the whole three. 
By this time our commander found out what was 
going on and despatched a boat and five men, with 
instructions to the prize master. The cowardly ras- 
cals had now got two more boats, and they met and 
captured our boat ; they then met and captured the 
prize and forced her to surrender ; they brought her 
in, put all the crew in irons and threw them in jail ; 
there was as much fuss among the heathen devils 
as if they had captured a line of battle ship. Here 
we WQVQ then, in a nice pickle; the Snap-Dragon 
under the guns of the fort, surrounded by their men- 
of-war ; no consul and no friends ; now what was to 
be done? The first thing was to find out the cause 
of all this; they said we had fired into the king's 
brig and had captured the prize, in less than tliree 
leagues from land ; All this was a lie the Spaniards 
told that they might get the prize, Vv hich was proven 
by the English crew. After keeping us there three 
weeks by bribery we got them to give up the prize 
and release our men. They robbed the vessel of 

146 



everything they could lay their hands on, among 
which was $15,000 in doubloons that we knew noth- 
ing about until it was too late, or that would have 
been taken on board the Snap-Dragon too. They 
robbed the men of everything they had and while 
they were in prison two of them died. 

There was one thing happened that I shall not 
soon forget. While we were laying there, the Span- 
ish brig had come in and anchored about 150 yards 
from us. One of our men had tried to run away and 
he was put in irons ; he contrived to get word to the 
Spaniard that he was a Spanish subject and claimed 
his protection ; so one day the Spanish captain came 
alongside and demanded him. Some very high 
words passed betv/een him and burns, who was on 
deck; the Spaniard drew his sword and Burns 
caught up a boarding pike and was in the act of 
staving it through him, when one of our officers pre- 
vented him ; and the Spaniard left in a hurry. The 
whole afifair did not cost the stockholders of the 
Snap-Dragon less than $20,000, besides her deten- 
tion. 

There were fifteen or twenty sail of English ves- 
sels in the harbor when we first got clear ; when we 
were already to sail they petitioned the Governor to 

147 



have an embargo laid on us until they could get 
out; this was granted them and we were detained a 
week. After we did sail we hovered on the coast 
some days in hopes of meeting the brig that had 
given us so much trouble, in which case it would 
have been doubtful if she would ever carry any more 
lies ; they had told enough to sink her anyhow. 

We cruised for some time between Carthagena 
and Jamaica; one night we fell in w^th a Spanish 
brig ; the boat's crew that boarded her happened to 
be some of the unfortunate men that had been in 
the Spanish prison. While the boarding officer was 
below examining the papers, some of them fixed a 
gallows and got a rope around one of the Spaniard's 
neck ; they were just in the act of swinging him off 
when the officer interfered ; he hailed us and said 
our men would hang every Spaniard on board ; so 
they had to be immediately recalled ; and no one of 
them who had been in the prison were after this 
permitted to board a Spaniard. 

We ran down a small island on the Spanish 
Main, settled principally by English ; the population 
was about seven hundred and more than three- 
fourths were blacks ; this little spot, Providence, is 
one of the prettiest I ever saw ; they raise nothing 

148 



but cotton, plenty of cattle, poultry and hogs, and 
some little breadstuff for their own use. The har- 
bor is a very fine one, had no fort, and from the road 
where we lay to the shore is not more than two 
hundred yards. The head man of the island was as 
clever a gentleman as I ever saw; he furnished us 
with everything we wanted and we paid him his 
own prices, which were very reasonable. If we 
had gotten there only one day sooner, we should 
have gotten a fine prize, for a few hours before we 
arrived a pirate went out and it was reported that 
he had a large quantity of specie on board ; he had 
stolen some slaves and cattle from the inhabitants. 
The commander let one-third of the men go ashore 
at a time to recruit themselves; the first party be- 
haved very well and returned at the time appointed ; 
the second found out an old lady who lived up on a 
hill, and she had spirits to sell ; but they did as well 
as the others. There were four or five Irishmen in 
the last crowd, and one of them was the sergeant of 
marines, and a saucy scoundrel he was. The Snap- 
Dragon by this time was under sailing orders, fore- 
top-sail loosed and a gun fired as a signal ; the first 
luff had been sent after the men and they refused to 
come; they said they had not gotten their frolic 
out, and if the luff interfered they would heave him 

149 



down the hill ; back he came with the news. Burns, 
without saying a word, threw himself into the boat 
and ordered them to set him ashore ; sword in hand 
he walked alone to the little pot house. The Irish 
sergeant — his name was Plane — came to meet him 
and says he, "Captain, now that I am ashore I am ah 
good a man as you are;" without a syllable Burns 
cut him down ; three or four more came up, but he 
cut and thrust among them until the blood ran in 
streams. He brought them all down to the boat in 
front of him, and in less than an hour they were on 
board the Snap-Dragon. 

That afternoon we shaped our course for Cape 
Antonio, and fifteen or twenty days sailed for Hav- 
ana; here we fell in with an English vessel from 
Honduras ; we took out a part of her cargo and gave 
her up as she was not worth manning. We now 
turned towards home. Off Cape Florida we had a 
slight engagement with the Providence, a privateer 
of ten guns, but she bore away and ran into the 
reefs, where we did not pursue her. 

Next morning we made a large ship ahead ; the 
wind was light and we saw we could not come up 
with her before dark. It was thought by all hands 
that she was an English ship from Havana, and it 

150 



was concluded that we should dog her until daylight ; 
at early dawn we were half a mile astern ; called all 
hands to quarters, showed our colors and fired a gun. 
The ship would not come to a showing, so we ranged 
up in musket shot and fired ahead of her; but she 
would not heave to. We now discovered that all 
hands were now at quarters, and that she mounted 
20 guns, and then there were some long faces on 
board the Snap-Dragon. We came up on her lee- 
quarter and asked what ship it was. They answered 
**The Fernando," from Havana to Cadiz. Our 
commander ordered him to heave to, which he re- 
fused to do until we threatened to fire on him; 
finally he did so and we sent our boat on board and 
gave him a complete overhauling. His papers were 
all genuine and he was discharged. 

We now stood for Beaufort harbor. North Caro- 
lina; just before we made land we spied a sail and 
gave chase, as we were very anxious to speak to 
some vessel to hear the news ; the chase stood in for 
land; the wind was quite moderate, but we soon 
overhauled her, and it was quite laughable to see 
them make pretense they were poling when there 
was seven fathoms of water ; all to prevent us from 
speaking them. We were now near Swansborough,, 



and the chase proved to be an old acquaintance. 
We both got in that evening. The Snap-Dragon had 
been absent more than six months; the crew were 
discharged and she was put into the carpenters* 
hands for repairs. 



1^2 



CHAPTER IV. 

In a short time the Snap-Dragon was again in 
complete order. Burns superintended all the ar- 
rangements ; forty to fifty men came on from Nor- 
folk, where a rendezvous had been opened; these 
with what we had already picked up, made our crevv^ 
complete, except a lieutenant and one or two prize 
masters. The agents had written to New York for 
a first lieutenant and he was expected every day; 
we had been under sailing orders several days when 
he arrived. He brought letters from the agents, 
complimenting Burns upon what a fine young officer 
they had got for him. He was a fine looking fellow ; 
his name was Brown. Burns gave him his instruc- 
tions and sent him on board, where almost all of the 
crew were waiting for him ; our commander intend- 
ed to come on board in the afternoon, and we were 
to sail in the morning if the wind should permit. He 
found the whole crew in great confusion; eight or 
ten of the old hands were in irons and there were 



153 



no better men in the whole ship ; one fine fellow by 
the name of Dick, who was a great favorite, looked 
at Burns as he came over the ship and began to cry. 
Without a word he went below and sent the steward 
on deck for Mr. Brown, and asked him what the 
matter was ; he said they were noisy and saucy and 
that hewould tame the d — <m rascals and show them 
how to behave ; the second luff was then questioned ; 
he said that Dick was cutting some of his monkey 
capers and others were laughing at him, that they 
had just come off and were a little merry. Burns 
very coolly told Mr. Brown that would not do on 
board a privateer, though perhaps it might do on 
a king's ship, and ordered him to have them re- 
leased; he refused and said he would order the 
master of arms; "No, Sir," answered Burns, "you 
put them in and you shall take them out." Mr. 
Brown still hesitated, when Burns caught his sword 
and said, "Now, Sir, obey my orders or I will run 
you through;" and this time he was promptly 
obeyed. From this circumstance Burns put him 
down as a coward ; for you never saw a tyrant but 
what was a coward. 

That night a boat arrived from Portsmouth and 
informed Burns that there was a King's schooner 

154 



cruising off that place, inquiring for him, and she 
was coming around to Beaufort for him the next 
morning. At 8 A. M. we sailed ; had a fine crew of 
127 men, some of them as brave as ever trod deck; 
some of the officers were cowards though, as the 
reader will see by and by. The schooner had sent 
word by a boat to us to meet him off Cape Lookout 
shoals ; which we took for H. R. M. schooner High- 
flyer. A great many persons had gone down to the 
Cape to see the fight, for they had heard that the 
Englishman had sent word to Burns. The two were 
meeting and when in gun-shot it turned out that the 
stranger was the Raleigh, a privateer from Balti- 
mor; she went into Beaufort while we bore up for 
Ocracoke in search of the Highflyer. On our arrival 
she was gone ; we cruised there a day and sent in a 
boat to inquire what had become of her, but she was 
not to be found. We now steered for Newfound- 
land; in two or three days sailed off the Grand 
Bank; made a large ship ahead; orders were given 
to make sail in chase, and then some of our brave 
officers began to show their cowardice ; the ship 
displayed American colors and we English ; we 
hailed and she answered, ''The American ship Nep- 
tune, from Wilmington, N. C, to Cadiz." She was 
ordered to heave to; our officer went aboard in 

155 



British uniform and the crew as British man-of- 
war's men; we had a man by the name of James 
Smith, who knew him as soon as we laid eyes on 
him. Burns overhauled his papers, and told him that 
he must send him to Halifax ; when the prize master 
and crew were ready, the captain told Burns that 
he could satisfy him he need not send him in if he 
would just let him go back to his ship; leave was 
granted and he returned with his British license. 
Finding all the papers genuine, we hauled down the 
British colors and ran up our own; Smith walked 
up and shook hands with the captain and called him 
by name and you never did see any poor devil as 
frightened as he was. His ship was loaded with rice 
and flour; after plaguing him a little while, we let 
him go, as we had no instructions in regard to 
licensed vessels; we tore up his British license 
though ; I have heard Burns often say since that he 
was sorry that he did not burn the ship. 

Some days after this we made three strange sails 
off Cape Race; after a short action a brig and a 
ship struck their colors ; the other, a fine brig of ten 
guns, tried to escape ; we gave up the brig we had 
taken, manned the ship and after several hours 
chase captured the runav/ay, without firing a gun. 

156 



She was as fine a brig as I ever saw and her cargo 
was invoiced at i8o,ooo. Put one of our best prize 
masters and a crew on board and ordered her home ; 
about a fortnight afterwards he bore down ten miles 
to windward to speak an American frigate, as he 
thought ; by this bad management he and our prize 
were retaken and he was sent to Dartmoor prison, 
where he died. 

In a few days we took two brigs and a schooner, 
manned one and gave up the others, as they were 
only in ballast ; 8 A. M. next morning made a strange 
sail ; by 4 P. M. got on her weather quarter, making 
her out a well-manned brig of twelve guns. She 
was nearly a dead match for us in sailing, but we 
kept in short gunshot all night and next morning a 
sharp conflict took place between us. Meantime 
the watch at the mast head bawled out "a. sail" and 
in a few minutes the horizen was full of vessels ; an 
English frigate hearing the firing was bearing down 
on us under a heavy press of sail ; we hauled off 
from the brig and the frigate put after us ; it was all 
in vain though, for we made two feet to his one ; so 
he gave it up. We were now in the midst of an 
outward bound fleet of about forty sail, timber laden, 
from St. John to England under the frigate's con- 

^S7 



voy. We boarded seven or eight of them, but let 
them all go, as Burns disapproved of destroying 
private property ; he could have burned half of them 
in sight of the frigate, for we could go in and out 
amongst the thickest of them in spite of him. Off 
St. John we captured and manned a brig for home ; 
she was a very valuable prize, loaded with dry goods, 
but was retaken in a few days. Next day we made a 
ten gun brig ; we came up on her lee quarter and or- 
dered her to cease firing, v/hich she had begun to do, 
and to strike her flag ; this she immediately did with- 
out striking a match ; she had a cargo invoiced at 
iio,ooo; before we could get her manned, the Rifle- 
man, sloop-of-war, made her appearance ; when she 
was in gunshot we had just got our prize ready to 
sail, orders were given her to set all the sail possible 
and to keep before the wind ; the Snap-Dragon was 
hauled by the Rifleman and the Rifleman chased us ; 
we had just such a breeze as we wanted, but the 
sloop was a first-class sailor and for some time it was 
impossible to say which was the better. Burns said 
not a word for some time, for he never suffered 
any one to talk to him about sailing the Snap- 
Dragon ; the sloop had several shots at us, to no 
effect; the chase continued for about an hour and 



158 



she discovered she was about to lose both privateei 
and prize as she turned to go after the prize ; as soon 
as he did we turned and laid the Snap-Dragon on 
his track. All the sloop guns were eighteen-pound 
cannonades, while our long pivot gun was only a 
twelve-pounder ; we soon began to make this talk to 
her, while she could not get a single gun to bear on 
us. Burns had determined if possible that neither he 
nor the prize should be taken, but now the sloop 
wore round and chased us again; she fired several 
divisions of her guns at us, which only cut our sails 
a little. Finding she could not catch us, for we 
kept just out of her reach, she bore up again after 
our prize ; we turned about and trained our long 
twelve on her ; but as it was now very dark and the 
prize six or seven miles ahead, that was the last we 
ever saw of the sloop or the prize. By bad manage- 
ment and the drunkenness of the prize master she 
was retaken, twenty days afterwards, between Ber- 
muda and Cape Henry; unfortunately we had not 
had time to take all the liquor out of her or perhaps 
she might have got home safe. Burns' strict orders 
were to run S. and E. of Bermuda, for from there 
to Cape Henry was a line of cruisers during the 
whole war; it was impossible to get in except at 
Beaufort and Ocracoke, and every master v/ho dis- 

159 



obeyed him was taken and carried to Dartmoor and 
remained till peace; two of them died, and ten or 
twelve of the crew, all through drunkenness and 
mismanagement. It was Burns' misfortune always 
to have a miserable set of masters and it was strange 
that the agent, and stockholders, would go to so 
great expense in fitting out a vessel and then ship 
such trifling fellows ; for after all it depends on the 
prize masters to make a successful cruise. 

The captain of the brig we had taken was a 
noble fellow ; he had never been in America and 
expected from what he had heard that he would 
have been robbed of everything he had ; but all that 
he and all his crew claimed was restored to them ; 
he came to love Burns like a brother and gave him a 
great deal of credit for outmaneuvering the sloop 
as he did. 

On the Grand Bank we fell in with a very heavy 
gale ; we were compelled to strike all our yards and 
top-masts and send our guns below. Burns was on 
deck all night until four o'clock and it required all 
his skill to save the ship ; she was lying to under 
storm sails, the sea making a constant breach over 
her; he had scarcely gone below to refresh himself 
when the first luff called to him that he was founder- 

i6o 



ing; he was on deck in an instant and found the 
Snap-Dragon buried in the waves ; he seized the 
helm and kept , her before the wind as the only 
chance for safety ; we had never scudded before, and 
all hands gave themselves up to be lost, for she was 
very long and so low in the water you might wash 
your feet out of the stern ports. In ten minutes 
her waist was clear of water and I never did see 
anything skip over waves as she did in all my life; 
still we knew that the first large sea that struck her, 
she might go down ; in eight hours we were safe ; 
the gale moderated and we got up our guns and set 
our yards and topmasts. I have often heard Burns 
say that if a vessel could scud nine knots, no sea 
could board her; we run ten knots the whole time 
we scudded; but I am well convinced that but for 
his superior management the sun would never have 
shone upon us again. 

Off Sit. John's harbor we capeured several coast- 
ers and gave them up as their cargoes were only 
lumber. One morning at sunrise we made a strange 
sail to leeward ; we bore down on her easy sail and 
she proved to be a schooner. When in about a mile 
of her Captain Fox, the Englishman we had taken, 
informed Burns that he made her to be H. B. M. 

i6i 



schooner Adonis, of fourteen guns, all eighteens; 
that she was well manned and advised him to haul 
off as soon as possible. Her main top was struck, 
jib boom rigged in, several bundles of hoops were 
lashed on her quarters and not a gun to be seen, so 
we took her for a coaster. Burns gave Fox his glass 
and told him to look again ; we piped to quarters and 
prepared for action; but Fox swore it was the 
Adonis and that he had left her in St. John's not 
ten days before, that she was trying to decoy him 
and that though he was a prisoner he would be sorry 
to see him taken. So he persuaded us to haul off, 
but when we were about two hundred yards off from 
the Adonis, she got scared and thought we were 
going to board her ; so she up ports and gave us a 
broadside of grape and canister; it was returned 
with a very good will and a sharp conflict ensued. 
In the very height of it Mr. Brown, the first luff*, 
quit his station and ran to Burns to tell him he would 
be taken in five minutes ; Burns broke his speaking 
trumpet over his head and ordered him back to his 
port; I wonder he did not shoot him. Orders were 
given to make sail on the Snap-Dragon, so she could 
play around the Adonis, like a cooper round a cask ; 
after teasing her thus some twenty minutes, we 
hauled off to repair damages which were very slight, 

162 



four wounded and some rigging cut; Burns then 
sent for Mr. Brown and broke him for cowardice, 
told him he was no longer lieutenant, but moved 
him forward ; Mr. Coakley was put in his place, and 
thus ended Mr. Brown's career as a lieutenant. 

In a few hours afterwards we chased a strange 
sail, which proved to be a brig of eight guns, which 
we captured without firing a gun; she was loaded 
with salt from Liverpool to St. John's ; we gave her 
up as she was a very dull sailor not worth manning. 
Soon after we left, the Adonis boarded her and thus 
found out who we were; in the afternoon we met 
her again and got the news that we had killed three 
and wounded five of the Adonis' men ; they thought 
we had intended to board her and we would not have 
disappointed her only we were short of men. 

Next day off Cape Francois fell in with a fleet 
of English fishermen, about ninety sail, of from 
forty to one hundred tons ; hoisted English colors 
and went aboard several and exchanged rum for 
fish. One old fellow came on board and examined 
our vessel very closely; Burns treated him very 
politely and invited him down into his cabin ; ''Well," 
says he, "Captain, this don't look like one of our 
English vessels, but don't care so long she doesn't 

163 



trouble us." He gave us some bait, so we went 
to fishing amongst them ; we staid there nearly all 
day and took between five and six hundred fish. 
We went into a little bay to fill water ; two or three 
miles oflf was a little fishing town ; the Captain of 
Marines and twenty-five men went to town and 
treated. Just as we got all ready again, our look- 
out signaled a strange sail ; vve got out of the bay as 
soon as possible, for we were afraid it was a cruiser, 
as we heard there was a schooner ofif the cape. Both 
vessels were steering for each other, but as we could 
not make out the stranger we hauled by the wind, 
so that we could pass to windward until we could 
make her out; she proved a three-masted schooner, 
as fine a craft' as ever sat on the sea. Burns tacked 
and stood after her, but it was too late ; she beat us 
by the wind. Burns was very mad, for we could 
have been alongside if we had kept our course ; but 
we did not like to run up until we found out what 
kind of craft she was. We learned afterwards that 
she was the Bordeaux, bound to Baltimore with 
silks, wines and brandies. 

We cruised north as far as 55° 30'; one day 
discovered some large islands of ice ; ran within half 
a mile; our boats found one that had a pond of 

164 



water on top and running down the sides in streams, 
so they fell to and filled twenty casks without diffi- 
culty, for it was smooth as a dock ; on the leeward 
they were aground in thirty fathoms of water and 
as solid as the earth. 

***** 

Our manuscript is here interrupted, but begins 
again with our hero in a rather tight fix. 

Burns took the boatswain and his gang and ran 
up the lanyards of the rigging ; in less than fifteen 
minutes you might see the difference in the Snap- 
Dragon's sailing; suppose that morning there was 
not less than $150,000 worth of property thrown 
overboard. As soon as the ship gave up the chase 
and bore away for the fleet, the Snap-Dragon did the 
same and captured the following named vessels out 
of it ; we could have taken as many more if we had 
the hands to run them. 

Here follows a list of brigs, ships and schooners, 
ten in all, including one which was made a cartel of ; 
in this the prisoners to the number of ninety-eight 
were placed after signing a pledge of honor not to 
bear arms against the United States during the 
present war until regularly exchanged ; all of which 
was ''Done on board the Snap-Dragon at sea, in 

165 



longitude 53° N., and latitude 46"^ N., this twenty- 
fourth day of June, 1813." Here follows the sign- 
ers' names. 

The Snap-Dragon now bore away with one of 
her prizes for the United States. We had on board 
nearly $150,000 worth of valuable dry goods which 
we had captured. One morning at day-light made 
a strange sail; signalled our brize brig to keep her 
course ; soon found the stranger was a cruiser lying 
to looking at us, trying to make out what we were. 
Burns immediately put on a press of sail and made 
a bold push at him, when he made off; as all we 
wanted was to drive him away from the prize we let 
him alone. We were nearly out of provisions and 
water, and were obliged to let the prize alone and 
get home as soon as possible; we arrived safe in 
Beaufort harbor after a cruise of two months, twen- 
ty-one days, in which we had captured two and a 
half millions of property from the enemy ; ten days 
afterwards the prize got in. 



166 



INDEX 

Adjustment of Representation in the Assembly io8 

"Adonis" attacks the "Snap-Dragon" 40, 162 

Albemarle County 107 

Almida, Captain, quarrels with Burns 29, 98 

Alston, Theodosia, lost at sea 61 

"Ann" captured by the "Snap-Dragon" 100 

"Ann" cargo of loi 

Amidas and Barton, discoveries by 16 

Battle, Kemp Plummer, LL. D., oration of 71 

Battle, Kemp Plummer, LL. D., assistance from.. .. 9 

Battle of Horse-Shoe Bend 68 

Beaufort, Duke of 21 

Beaufort, origin of name of 18 

Bertrand de Guesclin 19 

Blakely, Edna 53 

Blakely, Johnston 53 

"Bon-Homme Richard" 80 

British License on 

British loss by privateers 103 

Brown, James , 26 

Burns, Charles 59, 118 

Burns, Edwin Oscar 59, 118 

Burns, Francis, ist, career of 23, 72 

Burns, Francis, ist, will of 72 

Burns, Grindall Jerome 59, lit 

Burns, L R . . 58, 118 

Burns, Otway, ist 23,73 

Burns, Captain Otway and Almida quarrel 98 



Burns as a legislator 55, io6 

Burns as a ship-builder 105 

Burns at Cape Race 37 

Burns at Cartagena 35, 96, I44 

Burns at Curacoa • • 142 

Burns at Fort Macon 53 

Burns at Maracaibo 34, 137 

Burns at Newfoundland 37 

Burns at Ponce I35 

Burns at Porto Rico 33 I35 

Burns at St. Thomas 29, 129 

Burns at St. Croix 132 

Burns at Santa Cruz 32, 135 

Burns at Tortola 31,132 

Burns at Venezuela 35 

Burns, birth of 22 

Burns, broad mindedness of 114 

Burns builds first Steamer 105 

Burns builds the "Prometheus" 56 

Burns builds the "Warrior" and the "Henry".. 57 

Burns buried by the sea 62 

Burns, Captain of a Merchantman 24 

Burns, character of 61, 119 

Burns, discipline of 87 

Burns disciplines Sergeant Plane 87, 150 

Burns disciplines Thompson 88, 128 

Burns, early life of 73 

Burns, false stories about 60 

Burns' first adventure 29 

Burns' kind treatment of prisoners 43, 95 

Burns, last days of 56, 105, 117 

Burns, management of crew by 86 

Burns, married life of 57, 105, 117 

Burns not captured with the"Snap-Dragon". ... 104 
Burns overcomes difficulty of shipping crew. . 81, 121 

Burns, patriotic course of II3 

Burns, portrait of, presented to the State 64 

Burns punishes Judge Martin 81, 123 



Burns quarrels with Almida 29 

Burns, residence of 55 

Burns sacrifices popularity to justice 113 

Burns saves drowning men 54 

Burns' seamanship 33, 02 

Burns, valor of 04 

Burns was no pirate 80 

Burns, Otway, 4th 59, 118 

Burns, Owen 59, 118 

Burns, descendants of 58, 118 

Burns, Captain Owen, career of 56, 117 

Burns, Richard Jerome 58, 118 

Burns, Walter Francis 59, 118 

Burns, Walter Francis, Jr 59, 118 

Burns, X. Eugene 58,118 

Burnsville, origin of name of 55 

Canal building fever in North Carolina no 

Cannon on tomb of Captain Otway Burns 59 

Cape Race ^n 

Cardinal Beaufort 21 

Carolena 21 

Carolina, origin of 22 

Cartagena 35, 96, 144 

Carteret, origin of name 17 

Carteret, Sir George ig 

"Chasseur" 82 

Clark, Hon. Chief Justice, assistance from 9 

Clark, Hon. Chief Justice, introductory remarks at 

presentation of portrait 67 

Clark, Hon. Chief Justice, oration of 15 

Confederate States employed privateering 78 

"Constitution" 79 

Curacoa i^ 

Dartmoor Prison 40 

Davis, Thomas C 98 

De Cokely 26 

Discipline on a Privateer 88, 129 

"Dominick" attacks the "Snap-Dragon" 31, 132 



Difficulty of shipping crew 122 

Eastern and Western Controversy 112 

"Fawn" attacks the "Snap-Dragon" 34, 142 

FederaHsts opponents of the war 81 

Fort Macon - . . . . 53 

"Garland" attacks "Snap-Dragon" 29, 94, 130 

Gaston, Judge William 113 

Gautier, Thomas N 106 

"General Armstrong" attacks a 24- gun frigate 82 

"General Armstrong" in Fayal 83 

Graham, General Joseph, in the Indian War 68 

Harvey, John, owner of the "Snap-Dragon". . . . 24, 107 

"Henrietta" captured 99 

Historical data, scarcity of 7 

"Jane" captured by the "Snap-Dragon" 99 

John, Baron Carteret and Earl Granville 19 

Johnston, Governor Gabriel 72 

"Leopard" captures the "Snap-Dragon" 53, 105 

Letters of Marque and Reprisal 25, 79 

"Levere" changed to "Snap-Dragon" 24, 74, 122 

Lords Proprietors 19 

McKinley, James, owner of the "Snap-Dragon". ... 24 

Maracaibo 34, 137 

Martin, Judge Francis Xavier, punished by Burns. . 81, 123 

Massacre of St. Bartholemew 22 

Monument to Otway Burns, program at unveiling of. 13 
Names of vessels chosen from those of animals. ... 74 

Navy, strength of, in war of 1812 79 

"Nettler" attacks the "Snap-Dragon" 31, 95, 132 

Newfoundland 37 

"Non-Such" valiant struggle of the 83 

North Carolina Brigade at Cranes Island (iy 

North Carolina in the war of 1812 67 

Nunn, Romulus A., assistance from 9 

Ocracoke discovered 16 

Onslow County, origin of name 22 

Onslow, speaker 22 

"Pandora" captured by the "Snap-Dragon" 99 



Porto Rico 33, 135 

Portrait of Captain Otway Burns, original painting. . 71 
Portrait of Captain Otway Burns presented to the 

State 65 

"President" 79 

Privateers, damage inflicted by 103 

Privateering, effect upon enemy's shipping 25 

Privateering in Civil War 78 

Privateering in Confederate States 25 

Privateering justified 24,76 

Privateering, laws governing 84 

Privateering, legality of 25 

Privateering, modern attitude concerning TJ 

Privateering, regulations governing 26, 80 

Privateers, number of contributed by the States.. .. 82 

Privateers, plan of attack 83 

Privateers, range of 104 

Privateers, tactics of 91 

"Prometheus", the first steamer on Cape Fear waters 56 

Railroad fever in North Carolina in 

Reginald de Carteret 19 

"Revenge" encountered 125 

Roanoke Island settled 16 

"Rifleman" attacks the "Snap-Dragon" 39 

Sail-Rock Passage 30, 94, 130 

"St. Lawrence" captured by the "Chasseur" 82 

Saunders, Dr. J. W 27 

Shepherd, John, owner of the "Snap-Dragon" . ... 24 

"Snap-Dragon" attacked by four ships 92 

"Snap-Dragon" attacks a 22-gun vessel 47, 89 

"Snap-Dragon" attacks the "Nettler" 95 

"Snap-Dragon" bought 24 

"Snap-Dragon" captured by the "Leopard" 53, 105 

"Snap-Dragon' captures the "Ann" 100 

"Snap-Dragon" captures the "Henrietta" 99 

"Snap-Dragon" captures the "Jane" 99 

"Snap-Dragon" captures the "Pandora" 99 

"Snap-Dragon" captures three vessels at once. ... 34 



"Snap-Dragon" captures three vessels off Cape Race 2,7 

"Snap-Dragon" chases the "Nettler".. 31, 132 

"Snap-Dragon", crew of 45, 85 

"Snap-Dragon" damage inflicted 28 

"Snap-Dragon", description of 26 

"Snap-Dragon" destroys English privateer 2)^ 

"Snap-Dragon" escapes the "Adonis" 40 

"Snap-Dragon" escapes the "Dominick" 31, 132 

"Snap-Dragon" escapes the "Fawn" 34, 142 

"Snap-Dragon" escapes the "Garland" 29, 131 

"Snap-Dragon" escapes the "Rifleman" 39 

"Snap-Oragon" escapes the "Sophia" 31, 131 

"Snap-Dragon", estimate of captures by the 103 

"Snap-Dragon", extent of voyages 28 

"Snap-Dragon" fitted out 24, 122 

"Snap-Dragon", last cruise of 52, 105 

"Snap-Dragon", Log of the 121 

"Snap-Dragon" owners of the 24, 75 

"Snap-Dragon" sea-going qualities of 84 

"Snap-Dragon", second cruise of the 36 

"Snap-Dragon", third cruise of the 44 

Snyder, John 106 

"Sophia" attacks "Snap-Dragon" 30, 94, 131 

Swain, Governor 27, 113 

Surinam 48 

Santa Cruz 135 

St. Thomas 132 

Tactics of privateers 91 

Tajdor, Isaac, owner of the "Snap-Dragon" 75 

Tortola 31, 132 

Treaty of Paris on privateering 25 

"United States" 79 

University IMagazine 27, 86 

Venezuela 35 

"Warrior" built by Capain Otway Burns 57 

Washington burnt by British • 27 

Whitford, Col. John D 27 

Wilkens, Lillian Bums 59 



Wilkens, J. Anthony 59 

Wilkens, Theodora WaltxMia 59 

Yancey, Bartlett 55 

Yancey County, origin of name 55 

Yard- arm duel qS 



Ar« 25 U'06 



,coPYoa.:rroc»T.oW.